Covid: PFA chief defends 16% of unjabbed Premier League footballers

‘When others were at home they were told to go out and play’: PFA chief exec Maheta Molango DEFENDS the 16% of Premier League footballers refusing to be vaccinated, citing stars being told ‘you’ll be fine’ when they played without vaccines last year

  • Top flight revealed that 84 per cent of players are on the ‘vaccination journey’
  • PFA chief Maheta Molango insisted that the trade union supported vaccinations
  • He also pointed out that Premier League stars had to play last year without jabs
  • Premier League bosses are set to meet over easing their fixture list crisis today



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Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) chief executive Maheta Molango has backed the 16 per cent of unjabbed Premier League footballers by pointing out that they had to play without Covid vaccines last year.

The top flight revealed that 92 per cent of players and club staff have received one, two or three doses, with 84 per cent of players on the ‘vaccination journey’.

PFA chief Maheta Molango has defended unjabbed Premier League players

PFA chief Maheta Molango has defended unjabbed Premier League players

Molango has insisted that the PFA supported vaccinations but added it was ‘only one piece of the puzzle’.

‘We have to be careful with over-simplistic assessments of situations,’ Molango told the BBC.

‘(The players are) the same people that a few months ago, when I was at home and most people were at home, were told go out and play with no vaccines, that there were “no worries, you’re going to be fine”.’

Molango said some players may have ‘legitimate concerns’ in deciding not to take a coronavirus jab but the PFA is trying to help them make the ‘right choice’. 

‘We’re trying to help the players make the right choice based on science,’ he added.

‘They need to listen to the experts but at the same time, we have to acknowledge that certain people may have legitimate concerns.’

The Premier League stopped for three months between March and June 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic as all sport came to a halt but then resumed that summer with games played behind closed doors. 

The 2019-20 campaign was completed without fans in the stands as it was business as usual for the 20 clubs, while nearly the entire 2020-21 season was played with no crowds.

He pointed out that they had to play without Covid vaccines last year. Chelsea and Aston Villa pictured playing at Stamford Bridge behind closed doors last season

He pointed out that they had to play without Covid vaccines last year. Chelsea and Aston Villa pictured playing at Stamford Bridge behind closed doors last season

The English top flight said on Monday there were a record 90 new cases of Covid-19 among players and staff in the last week.

Sports minister Nigel Huddleston has urged footballers to ‘overcome their reluctance’ to get the Covid-19 vaccine because it is their social responsibility.  

Top-flight players and bosses are set to vent their frustrations to the Premier League later today over the decision to press ahead with the hectic winter schedule amid the surge in Covid cases.

Ten Premier League games have been postponed this month due to outbreaks but clubs have agreed to fulfil the busy festive fixture schedule. 

The English Football League said last week that 25 per cent of its players from 72 clubs did not intend to get vaccinated even as outbreaks forced fixtures to be postponed across divisions.

Liverpool skipper Jordan Henderson insisted nobody at the Premier League ‘really takes player welfare seriously’ earlier this week as football pledged to continue despite rapidly rising Covid-19 cases.

Liverpool's Jordan Henderson is concerned player welfare is not being taken seriously enough

Liverpool’s Jordan Henderson is concerned player welfare is not being taken seriously enough

HOW OMICRON COVID OUTBREAKS HAVE THE PREMIER LEAGUE ON EDGE

Arsenal

Mikel Arteta revealed Arsenal had been forced to close their London Colney training ground after reporting a ‘few cases’ among players and staff following their 2-0 victory over West Ham United. Defender Pablo Mari and midfielder Albert Sambi Lokonga were among those to test positive and therefore missed the win at Leeds. 

Aston Villa 

Forced to postpone Premier League clash with Burnley on December 18 just two hours before kick-off after an increased amount of positive Covid-19 test results within their playing squad. 

Brentford

The Bees have 13 cases among players and staff – the club are now calling for a circuit-breaker szhutdown to help clubs recover. Their training ground has been closed and as a result their trip to Southampton on Saturday has been postponed. 

Leicester

Would have been without several players for Tottenham’s visit on Thursday due to Covid before the game was postponed – despite initial calls being rejected – hours before kick-off.  Their training ground was closed on Thursday morning to contain the outbreak but given they have an insufficient number of players available, their weekend trip to Everton is also off.

Manchester United

Case numbers are currently unknown but a large outbreak saw their game with Brentford postponed. Calls to have Saturday’s game with Brighton to be postponed were accepted on Thursday, and it has emerged that United would have had only seven available players for that game such is the impact of the outbreak. Their training complex is closed until Tuesday at least, in order to reduce the risk of transmission.

Brighton

Had a request for Wednesday’s game with Wolves to be postponed rejected by the Premier League following an outbreak at the club. Graham Potter confirmed there were ‘three to four’ positive cases before the game, which they lost 1-0. Saturday’s game with Manchester United has now been postponed.

Norwich

Manager Dean Smith was facing an anxious wait to discover the full extent of the outbreak at the club. Josh Sargent, Lukas Rupp and Pierre Lees-Melou were absent from the squad that faced Aston Villa in midweek for ‘Covid-related’ reasons, but while Christos Tzolis is the only confirmed player to test positive, more positive test results have been returned. The Canaries had discussions with the Premier League over Saturday’s clash with West Ham and it was agreed to postpone as they have an insufficient number of players available. 

Watford

Saw their midweek game with Burnley postponed just hours before kick-off. With their training ground closed, their home match with Crystal Palace has now been confirmed as postponed too. Case numbers are currently unknown but they do not sufficient players to fulfil the Palace match.

Tottenham

Spurs were the first Premier League club to be hit by the Omicron variant last week and saw games against Brighton and Rennes postponed after cases reached double digits among players and staff. Those who tested positive for the virus are expected to return in the next couple of days after completing their 10-day self-isolation period. Spurs’ clash with Leicester on Thursday was postponed despite initial demands to have the game called off were rejected, but Sunday’s clash with Liverpool is due to go ahead.

Chelsea

After Brentford, the Blues became the latest club to be hit by a Covid outbreak, after it was confirmed ahead of their game with Everton that four more first-team players had tested positive. Mateo Kovacic was the first Chelsea player to get the virus in the outbreak this week, with Romelu Lukaku, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Timo Werner and Ben Chilwell following. Neverthless, their game with Everton went ahead and was drawn. Despite recording seven positive Covid cases, the Blues saw a request for their trip to Wolves rejected and Tuchel fumed at the decision to allow the game – which ended 0-0 – to go ahead on Sunday.

Liverpool

It was confirmed just an hour before kick-off against Newcastle on Thursday night that Fabinho, Curtis Jones and Virgil van Dijk were all out having tested positive for Covid. Midfielder Thiago also tested positive for Covid before Sunday’s trip to Spurs and Jurgen Klopp said it is ‘not possible’ for the Reds to continue playing if more players fall ill. 

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