Chelsea’s Willian cautious about resuming even without fans

SAO PAULO (AP) — Chelsea winger Willian (pic below) is relishing the English Premier League (EPL) resuming, with some reservations during the coronavirus pandemic.

“If we restart playing without fans but there’s contact on the pitch … maybe we can spread the virus between us,” Willian said in a video interview. “It’s not a bad idea but they have to know very carefully what’s going to happen. Maybe a player can have the virus and we play against each other, you know?

“I play against someone and I get the virus then I go home after the game to stay with my family and pass the virus to my wife or daughters. So we have to be careful about that.”

It was teammate Callum Hudson-Odoi testing positive for the coronavirus on March 11 that contributed to the Premier League’s decision to halt a season that is suspended indefinitely. Chelsea’s last game was three days earlier against Everton.

“We shook hands and hugged each other,” Willian said. “So after that when he tested positive for the coronavirus I think everyone was worried about it. But none of us felt any symptoms.”

Still, Willian, along with the rest of the squad, had to go into self-isolation in his London apartment before eventually flying out to join his wife and children who had returned to Brazil.

Willian remains in Sao Paulo waiting to discover when training can resume in England. Extending the season far beyond its expected end-point in mid-May has additional complications as his Chelsea contract expires, like so many across football leagues, on June 30.

“I want to give everything for Chelsea until the end like I always did, until the end of my contract, until the end of the league,” Willian said. “I have to discuss with the club to see what we are going to do. But for me, from my side, I have no problem to play until the end of the season.”

While the league has been on hold during the pandemic, players have come under pressure to accept pay cuts — particularly to protect the jobs of non-playing staff at clubs.

Premier League clubs agreed collectively that squads should have salaries reduced by 30 per cent as revenue streams have dried up but the players’ union could not reach an agreement.

“Everyone has to help, but for me personally this shouldn’t be an obligation,” Willian said.

“Like you have to do this because you have to. … you have to do if you feel you have to do.

From your heart. Not an obligation that players have to do this or do that.”
Some league players have collectively promoted fundraising for charities linked to the British National Health Service.

“I help many people here in Brazil,” Willian said.