June 16, 2020 / 2:11 PM / 20 days ago

Soccer-Premier League CEO says Rashford 'moved government' on food vouchers

MANCHESTER, England, June 16 (Reuters) - Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford’s successful campaign for school food vouchers to be provided over the summer holidays was hailed by the Premier League’s chief executive on Tuesday.

British ministers originally said school food vouchers would not be available over the long holiday, prompting the 22-year-old Manchester United forward to take up the cause and reveal how he had relied on such support as a boy.

Johnson’s spokesman said on Tuesday the government would be providing a COVID summer food fund costing around 120 million pounds ($150 million).

“It’s fantastic. Congratulations to Marcus, his perseverance and the way that he has gone about it have obviously moved Government. It’s a really important and heart-moving cause and I offer my congratulations to him,” Premier League CEO Richard Masters told reporters on a conference call.

Masters said that after initial criticism from some politicians about footballers not taking pay cuts during the coronavirus lockdown, the players have responded well.

“If you look at the way clubs have supported their communities, lots of players and ex-players (have been) getting involved.,” he said.

“Players themselves have stepped up and made their opinions and voices heard on some of the issues that society is facing and I think we can look back on the last 3 months with some pride in the way football has responded, as an industry, to some of the challenges,” he said.

The Premier League will resume on Wednesday with two fixtures, including Manchester City against Arsenal, before a full weekend of games — all without fans.

The league has not played since it was suspended on March 13 due to the pandemic.

“I guess I’m feeling really excited. It’s the culmination of a lot of hard work, a lot of consultation,” Masters said.

“The real prize is completing the season. We have to be careful, we have to observe the new normal, the new rules and regulations that have been put in place. We’re confident the clubs and the players and staff involved will do that,” he added. (Reporting by Simon Evans, editing by Ed Osmond)

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