Calls on football authorities to ban players who flout COVID-19 rules

UK football authorities have been urged to start punishing players who flout coronavirus restrictions, a number of people from various clubs hosting or attending illegal gatherings over the Christmas and New Years period.

Positive cases are skyrocketing, apparently due to a new, more transmissible strain of the virus. More than 360,000 people tested positive last week, including 54,990 on January 3 alone.

England school reopening strategy examined amid Covid-19 outbreak
UK struggles to cope with more dangerous second wave | Nathan Stirk / Getty Images

There are real fears that this second wave will far exceed the peak of the initial wave in the spring and there are new calls for a second full nationwide lockdown as in March.

Professional football has not been immune to the second wave and there have been postponements in the Premier League and all three levels of the EFL ladder due to outbreaks of COVID-19.

But some players appear to be ignoring rules that prevent the whole of mainland UK from meeting other households indoors, with the exception of some key exemptions.

Tottenham trio Erik Lamela, Giovani Lo Celso and Sergio Reguilon and Manuel Lanzini of West Ham attended a rally over Christmas time attended by at least 15 adults and a number of children, with a photo of the event making its way on social media.

Manchester City full-back Benjamin Mendy hosted a New Years Eve dinner, while Crystal Palace captain Luka Milivojevic and Fulham striker Aleksandar Mitrovic also attended a meeting with au minus seven other adults that night.

Fulham has confirmed that they are looking into Mitrovic’s behavior, but Milivojevic played 90 minutes at Palace against Sheffield United on January 2. and he kept the captaincy.

Meanwhile, city boss Pep Guardiola has actively defended Mendy, going with the “a lot of other people probably did too” argument. This despite an outbreak at City which is already forcing a recent game against Everton to be postponed and contributes to game congestion later in the season.

“Of course what he did wasn’t right, but don’t judge him too much. Maybe a lot of people have done the same. It’s easy to judge others, ”Guardiola tried to reason.

Benjamin mendy
Pep Guardiola defended Benjamin Mendy at the NYE party | Michael Regan / Getty Images

Suspensions have been imposed on rugby and netball, but Professor John Ashton, former North West Regional Director of Public Health, has accused football executives of prioritizing money over health and social responsibility .

“Football has such a responsibility to show leadership and set an example that it is a shame,” Ashton told the Daily Telegraph. “These people are not leaders who run the national game. They’re cowards, in fact, and they’re more interested in money than anything else.

Former FA President David Bernstein also told the same newspaper: “The very fact that the games are played, the players are inevitably in close contact and, of course, hug each other after scoring a goal. , all of this leads to a sense of normalcy in what is totally abnormal national crisis.

Phil Foden, Kevin de Bruyne, Ilkay Gundogan, Bernardo Silva
The relative normality of football is at odds with the rest of the UK | Marc Atkins / Getty Images

“This is compounded by the headlines in the media focusing on the players partying and breaking the rules. It produces a “Dominic Cummings” effect. “If they can relax, cuddle and party, so can I.” The penalty for non-compliance should be much more severe. “

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