Soccer – on the bench
Sir, – I read with interest your report that the UK government has informed Premier League soccer clubs that their players must be allowed “to opt out of the stage-two training environment at any time, without any resulting discrimination not associated with the potential natural competitive impact resulting from any loss of training time” (“UK government says elite athletes must be allowed to opt out of contact training”, Sport, May 25th).
If a player who, like Troy Deeney or N’golo Kanté, has insisted he will not return to training in unsafe conditions is dropped from the starting 11 when the season resumes, I greatly look forward to seeing the UK courts grapple with the issue of whether this was penalisation or merely the “natural competitive impact” of lost training time.
Presumably this will require a judicial determination of whether the player should have been starting in the ordinary course of events.
If the judge is not familiar with the player in question, evidence of past performance and expert witness testimony will surely be necessary.
Thankfully, having been starved of live sport for months, I’m sure many football fans will be only too willing to offer their expert opinion as to the relative merits of various players.
They may even be able to instruct counsel on the most effective chant-based submissions to that effect. – Yours, etc,
School of Law,
Trinity College Dublin,