Coronavirus: EFL invited to offer BAME guidance

Les Ferdinand says QPR will address the statistics about BAME coronavirus death rates, and he expects the EFL to give any necessary advice.

QPR director of football Les Ferdinand.   -  Getty Images

English football chiefs have been backed to give any necessary assurances to Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) players that they will be safe to return to action.

Former England striker Les Ferdinand, who is director of football at Championship side QPR, expects the English Football League (EFL) to leave no stone unturned with its health guidance.

Figures released last week by the United Kingdom's Office for National Statistics showed black people are almost twice as likely as white people to die with coronavirus.

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Ferdinand is aware of the concerning numbers but is confident football will provide "a safe environment", with regular testing to be implemented within any leagues that are allowed to resume during the COVID-19 crisis.

He told Stats Perform: "I know the statistics out there at the moment suggest it's worse for people of ethnicity, but at the moment I would expect our [club] doctor to have those things in hand and conversations to be had around that.

"Because sometimes when you just listen at what's put out there, it's a little bit of scaremongering and people can get scared off the back of it.

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"The EFL have to still give us guidelines, and if they're giving us guidelines they have to give us guidelines about that as well if it's a problem."

Speaking on Tuesday, Ferdinand proudly detailed the efforts being taken on the medical side at QPR and said it was important to listen to government instructions.

Football in the United Kingdom could resume in June, with the Premier League keen to start up again and a possibility clubs from the EFL will get back to playing games too.

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"In young, healthy people, I think we have to look at the guidelines the government have set us... because they're not saying to ethnic minority, BAME representatives that you can't go to work," Ferdinand said.

"If they're still going to work in the National Health [Service] or whatever jobs they're in, I think it's pretty safe to say that it's a safe environment for footballers to go back into, their environment.

"We have to keep an eye on it, but the advice my doctor is giving to the football club is holistic and it's based around everybody. It's about everybody going back to work in a safe environment."

-Les Ferdinand tells social media giants to stop vile-

Ferdinand has challenged social media giants to tackle racism on their platforms with the ruthlessness they have showed towards COVID-19 conspiracy theorists.

Arsenal great Ian Wright became the latest high-profile footballer to complain about being targeted for abuse, which has led to a police investigation in Ireland.

"All this sort of stuff has been taken down, but they allow racist abuse to float freely through their channels.

"Until these people decide to do something about it, this problem will remain."

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Representatives of major English football authorities met with several social media companies last year in an effort to press the point about players being targeted online.

Wright complained of being abused on Instagram, while players including Manchester City forward Raheem Sterling, Watford striker Troy Deeney and Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha have faced vile remarks on a number of platforms, based around their skin colour.

The problem is widespread, and Ferdinand wants there to be greater accountability.

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