WAYNE ROONEY has branded the government and Premier League a "disgrace" over their handling of the footballer pay cut row.
And the Manchester United legend, who now plays for Derby in the Championship, says footballers have been made "scapegoats" at a time of national emergency in the coronavirus crisis.
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SunSport told you how top-flight players are refusing to bail out their clubs as English football heads towards civil war.
Premier League chiefs and club executives thought the players were ready to buy into their proposal for a wage cut or deferral of up to 30 per cent designed to stave off financial meltdown caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
But they were told by players that they want to help the NHS rather than rich owners.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock has called for footballers to take pay cuts – and Rooney, 34, thinks doing that in front of the nation was uncalled for.
He wrote in his Sunday Times column: "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.
"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.
"First the Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, in his daily update on coronavirus, said that Premier League players should take a pay cut.
"He 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?"
Rooney – who also opened up on his relationship with Cristiano Ronaldo after that infamous wink in the 2006 World Cup – then writes how he thinks it is strange that the discussion over footballers' wages has been played out in public.
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He says he feels as if it has been to "shame the players — to force them into a corner where they have to pick up the bill for lost revenue".
Rooney's words come among a flurry of stories of footballers doing their bit to help the country.
Current United ace Marcus Rashford has raised £20million for children and Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson has held talks over a coronavirus crisis fund.
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