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​Derby forward Rooney hits back at government criticism

Derby forward Wayne Rooney says footballers are being used as scapegoats by the government during the coronavirus pandemic.

British Health Secretary Matt Hancock publicly called on Premier League players to take a pay-cut and 'play their part' to help the economic impact of the illness.

But Rooney says his peers are being used as 'easy targets'.

"If the government approached me to help support nurses financially or buy ventilators, I'd be proud to do so - as long as I knew where the money was going," wrote Rooney in the Sunday Times.

"I'm in a position where I could give something up. Not every footballer is in the same position. Yet suddenly the whole profession has been put on the spot with a demand for 30 per cent pay cuts across the board. Why are footballers suddenly the scapegoats?

"How the past few days have played out is a disgrace. He (Hancock) was supposed to be giving the nation the latest on the biggest crisis we've faced in our lifetimes. Why was the pay of footballers even in his head? Was he desperate to divert attention from his government's handling of this pandemic?"

The Premier League has asked players to take a 30 per cent pay-cut, but the PFA has argued that the move could cause a £200m tax deficit.

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Paul Vegas

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