‘Brainless’ footballers are sending ‘awful message’ by flouting Covid guidelines, government minister insists


Footballers who have continued to hug and kiss when celebrating goals despite a worsening in the coronavirus crisis have been “brainless”, according to the chair of the key parliamentary sports committee.

Manchester City and Fulham players crowded together after scoring in their respective matches on Wednesday night, in spite of reminders from the Premier League to strictly observe protocols on the avoidance of unnecessary contact.

Julian Knight, the chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee, said: “Some of the scenes we have seen have been brainless and give out an awful message.”

He added: “These people are absolutely putting themselves on the line every day for us, and they are appealing to people to obey the rules. 

“And footballers should listen to them and see that they are in a position of influence where they can help the NHS get us through this very difficult time.”

All 10 of City’s outfield players celebrated together after Phil Foden’s goal.

City boss Pep Guardiola suggested it would be difficult for his side to follow the protocols in the spur of the moment.

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“We are going to do it, we are going to follow, we are going to respect the protocols. It is not just for us, it is for the rest of society,” he said.

“But the moment you score a goal and one guy runs and the others don’t go to celebrate with him, it is weird and uncomfortable. We will follow what the Premier League says but I don’t know if we will be able to do it.”

Brighton boss Graham Potter agreed with Guardiola’s point of view.

Potter said: “It is a challenge but we want to adhere as closely as we can because we understand the seriousness of it. We will do our best.

“Unfortunately sometimes the brain is a sub-conscious one and you are just there in the moment, you are not thinking, it is an instinctive reaction.”

PA

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