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Player welfare, social media c...
Football

Player welfare, social media concerns behind closing of GAA facilities until July 20th

The GAA have explained why they have released players from inter-county training and kept all facilities shut until July 20th during the pandemic.

There is no player injury scheme during this period and there will be no collective training for club players that had hoped to resume training on May 18th. There is nothing to stop a player training individually.

Yesterday, the GAA outlined that it would be October at the earliest before inter-county action can be held, with club championships possible in August and September.

The Irish Government's road map to reopen society allows for people to engage in sporting and fitness activity in groups of four where social distancing is maintained from May 18th. From June 8th, small group team training is permitted with no contact.

So why is the GAA waiting until the end of July?

GAA Director of Communications Alan Milton told Newstalk Breakfast there needs to be an easing of the level of training with no matches in prospect.

"I think the reason why counties were asked to release players is purely from a player welfare perspective. I don't think some of the training load that the players are currently engaged in would be particularly healthy when they didn't have a target, or at least, the target they have is as far off as October. All players, including inter-county players would benefit from the fact that club activity would possibly return in July. The idea that players could go back in fours could be quite challenging. You might need the players to come together in groups of 20 or 25 to be carved up or to be split into groups and we just felt that this is a black and white issue - safety has to come first. That's not to say that it may not happen organically in a very informal way when public parks reopen, but we felt there would have been a massive onus and a challenge on our units to try and facilitate that."

Milton added that the GAA is concerned over social distancing breaches being exposed on social media.

"I think in an age where everybody is a broadcaster and everybody is a photographer, I think indiscretions and misdemeanors would have been recorded and we would have found ourselves explaining situations, perhaps out of naivety or innocence, where it might have been breached. Some of the learnings we've taken from what the Government said last weekend is that social distancing is paramount, it has to be adhered to, and after the efforts we've made, we just didn't want to fall down on that one."

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