Former England defender Glen Johnson has slammed the way some politicians have treated Premier League players during the coronavirus pandemic, calling it a "disgrace."
Johnson has been frustrated in particular by those who have called for Premier League players to take wage cuts while simultaneously urging them to return to the field as soon as possible to boost the nation's morale.
"I think it’s a disgrace - how can politicians say that? You can’t make your cake and eat it," Johnson told the Daily Mail. "Most people enjoy watching sport whenever it’s on and obviously football is a massive part of that. [But] I think it’s bang out of order.
"You can’t shoot from the hip asking them to take pay cuts and then shoot from the other hip saying, 'We want you to get back as soon as possible.' You can’t have it both ways.
"Everyone wants sport to come back but we’re talking about people dying here. We’re not talking about sitting on the sofa watching regular sport."
Last month, Wayne Rooney echoed Johnson's sentiment, hitting out at Health Minister Matt Hancock, who said that footballers should "play their part" during the crisis.
Later in April, Premier League players announced the "Players Together" initiative to donate funds to National Health Service charities.
As the Premier League eyes a return to the pitch in June, teams have been approved to return to training in "small groups" as of this week.
Not every player is ready to go back, however, with Watford striker Troy Deeney citing the health of his son as his rationale for refusing to turn up to training this week.
Johnson has said he couldn't blame any player who doesn't feel safe returning to the pitch in the midst of a pandemic that has killed more than 35,000 in England thus far.
"We’re in a crisis at the moment and that’s much more important than sport itself. So if the players don’t feel safe then 100 per cent they shouldn’t go back," said Johnson.
"Some people are going to be more sceptical than others and I think everyone has the right to … there are some lads who will be living at home on their own and others who are older with young babies. So I totally respect anyone’s decision if they want to go back or don’t want to go back."