Pep Guardiola hits out at politicians over football’s celebration blame game

Pep Guardiola has hit back at the sport’s critics saying they should stop blaming football for the UK’s Covid situation.

The country is in its third ­lockdown and one which the ­Government has given no timescale for lifting.

Focus recently has been on ­football, with fresh protocols to avoid hugging when celebrating a goal.

But Manchester City manager Guardiola, whose side host Crystal Palace tomorrow, believes football is not the cause of the UK’s situation.

“We are going to do our best to follow the new rules for the ­Government and the scientists who inform us what we have to do,” said Guardiola. “But please, the situation that is happening in the UK is not due to football players.

“Don’t put absolute ­responsibility on our jobs and ­players because it’s a pandemic ­situation all around the world and from day one we follow what the Prime Minister said.”

All of City’s outfield players celebrated together after Phil Foden’s goal against Brighton in Wednesday’s 1-0 win, with Guardiola ­admitting afterwards that it was “weird and uncomfortable” for ­players not to celebrate.

But as his side prepare to face ­Palace on the back of seven straight wins, he said: “Hopefully we can score a lot of goals but we have to be careful not to hug much.

“I understand how sensible everything is. We can do as much as we can, as well as possible and follow all the protocols.

“All the clubs have been clear. If ­someone breaks the rules like ­sometimes it happens, it’s not good.

“Sometimes if you lose the ­emotion, what happens in the moment, it’s ­difficult. But on the other side I understand, it’s so sensible.

"A lot of businesses cannot do their jobs, they are closing and we are fortunate we can play ­football and we can do our jobs.

“We try, all the clubs, managers, doctors, clubs in the Premier League, Champions League, League One and League Two, we want to follow the protocols because we are ­concerned how important it is.

"We are concerned how difficult the ­situation is, a lot of people ­unfortunately are being infected and dying every day and we have to do it.”

City were held at home by Palace 2-2 last season and the season ­before Roy Hodgson’s underdogs stunned them 3-2.

Guardiola insists there is no way his side will be ­looking ­further ahead than tomorrow’s game.

He added: “In my head and hopefully in the head of the players, it’s just Crystal Palace.

“We were not able to beat them at home in the last two seasons and it was really tough. But we try to convince the players to do their job and win the game.”

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