he Premier League, the EFL and the FA have issued a joint statement in which they have declared their confidence that the 2020-21 season can be completed successfully if players and clubs “set the right example” and follow tightened Covid-19 protocols.
Government ministers are concerned football has stopped taking coronavirus rules seriously as players continue to ignore guidelines by hugging each other during goal celebrations.
Whitehall is privately questioning whether elite sport should be allowed to continue and Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston has warned players to stick to the guidelines and told the game’s authorities to “strictly” enforce the rules.
In a statement on Thursday, the Premier League, the EFL and the FA said players “must continue to use their influence in demonstrating the importance of following the rules”.
With the Covid-19 situation worsening throughout the country, the three organisations have said “safety is a collective effort” and football must “set the right example to the public on and off the pitch”.
“The Football Association, Premier League, EFL and Barclays Women’s Super League have this week introduced enhanced Covid-19 measures and stressed their importance to everyone in the game,” said the statement.
“Safety is a collective effort and football requires the ongoing support of clubs, managers, players and all those involved in staging matches to continue to manage the spread of infection and set the right example to the public on and off the pitch. We will offer guidance, education and support as well as reviewing our practices to ensure they remain of the highest standard.
“Our three organisations have confidence in our Covid-19 protocols and our ability to bring the season to a successful conclusion.
“Throughout this crisis, the health, safety and well-being of all participants has been our number one priority and by following the national rules and football’s own strict medical and scientific advice, football has been able to maintain its privileged position and continue to engage and entertain millions of people around the country.
“The game has a responsibility and during this critical period it is down to everyone involved to ensure they follow Government rules and our protocols. We have seen the huge contribution players have made to the national effort and they must continue to use their influence in demonstrating the importance of following the rules.
“With full compliance to our Covid-19 protocols – alongside effective testing regimes – we are confident at the halfway point of the season that, with the support of all, the 2020-21 campaign will continue to its conclusion in May.”
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