England legend Wayne Rooney blasted the country's government and football governing bodies over their delayed reaction to the coronavirus outbreak, saying players were treated like "guinea pigs."
"The rest of sport - tennis, Formula 1, rugby, golf, football in other countries - was closing down and we were being told to carry on," Rooney wrote in The Times on Sunday.
Elite football in Britain is now suspended until at least April 3, but the Premier League shut down after most of Europe's top leagues had already made the decision to put things on hold.
Initial plans to play matches in front of empty stadiums were ditched following an emergency meeting on Friday between Premier League clubs. Those crisis talks came after Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta and Chelsea winger Callum Hudson-Odoi tested positive for the coronavirus.
For current Derby County veteran Rooney, that decision came too late.
"I think a lot of footballers were wondering, 'Is it something to do with money being involved in this? Why did we wait until Friday? Why did it take Mikel Arteta to get ill for the game in England to do the right thing?'" Rooney wrote.
"After the emergency meeting, at last the right decision was made - until then it almost felt like footballers in England were being treated like guinea pigs."
Rooney, like many players, stated the importance of prioritizing health and said football can wait.
"We're happy to play until September if the season extends to then, if that's how it has to be. That's our job," he offered. "As long as we know we're safe to play and it's a safe environment for spectators, we'll play."
Premier League clubs will hold a second emergency meeting on Thursday to discuss the remainder of the 2019-20 campaign. That will come after UEFA holds a video call with its 55 member states to consider the feasibility of Euro 2020.
Rooney added that he has a solution for the uncertain football calendar.
"The next World Cup is in November and December 2022, so you could actually use this situation as an opportunity and say we're going to finish the 2019-20 season later this year, then prepare for 2022 by having the next two seasons starting in winter," he wrote.