Granit Xhaka has rejected the chance to take a vaccination against Covid-19, the Swiss Football Association confirmed after the midfielder tested positive.
The Arsenal midfielder, who signed a new three-year, £100,000-a-week deal to stay at the Premier League club just last month, is captain of his national side and was left out of the contest against Greece on Wednesday while he isolates.
Xhaka initially tested negative before a follow-up PCR came back positive and it raised questions as to whether the 28-year-old had yet elected to be vaccinated.
Swiss FA’s head of communications Adrian Arnold, as per Swiss outlet Blick, confirmed the player had rejected vaccination.
Granit Xhaka has chosen not to be vaccinated against Covid-19, the Swiss FA have confirmed
Xhaka (left), alongside wife Leonita Lekaj (right), ‘decided for himself’ not to receive a vaccine
‘Granit Xhaka was not vaccinated,’ Arnold said.
‘He’s a player who isn’t vaccinated. We left this up to each player, it’s a personal decision of each player – just like any other person in Switzerland.
‘We have issued a recommendation that everyone vaccinate. But he decided for himself personally. And it is also his right not to be vaccinated.’
Arnold added: ‘All the other players in the team have been vaccinated or have recovered [from Covid] – so they are more or less safe, at least from a medical point of view. One is never quite sure. Accordingly, we have a very high vaccination rate.
‘Now, unfortunately, Granit got caught. From a sporting point of view, it is a shame for us at this important moment.’
Vaccines are viewed as a way to reduce the likelihood of contraction as well as reducing the number of hospital admissions among those who do test positive.
England and Everton footballer Fabian Delph shared an anti-vaccine message on Instagram
Delph shared the post by US-based holistic medicine company The Healing Chamber
Research has shown that various Covid vaccines reduce an individual’s risk of catching or spreading Covid-19 as well as variants.
Back in July England and Everton footballer Fabian Delph shared an anti-vaccine message on his Instagram account that claims the human immune system can fight Covid-19 unaided.
That came as several Premier League and EFL clubs considered inserting vaccination clauses into player contracts as a term of employment.
Midfielder Delph, 31, who has 20 England caps, shared the message from United States-based holistic medicine website The Healing Chamber on his Instagram stories on Wednesday.
‘It’s now a “conspiracy theory” to believe that the immune system is capable of doing the job it was designed to do,’ the message on Delph’s Instagram read.
Following a Covid-19 outbreak at Arsenal prior to their season-opening game against Brentford, manager Mikel Arteta was asked about vaccination across his first-team squad.
He said: ‘Most of them are double-vaccinated. Others they have one vaccine.
‘We are trying to encourage them to get vaccinated because they are going to protect themselves, their families, obviously the environment around the club. But it is a really personal matter and we are trying to guide them and explain the reasons why it is better to do it. But at the end, it’s a personal decision.
‘It is not about protecting ourselves, it is about protecting the people around us as well. I think it is a gesture of generosity.
Arsenal, who Xhaka plays for, are among the clubs who have suffered due to Covid positives
Ministers want players to get their jab done and show the way for their adoring supporters
‘I don’t know if somebody is completely convinced at the beginning to do it, but you see that the benefits at the moment are much bigger.’
But there are many footballers, like Xhaka, who have so far yet to take up the opportunity to be vaccinated.
The Telegraph report that new research conducted across the English Football League (EFL) has shown that a third of players have no plans to get vaccinated.
Data seen by The Telegraph shows that around 70 per cent of players at the EFL’s 72 clubs had taken at least one dose of a vaccine or were intending to get jabbed against Covid, leaving 30 per cent with no plans at all to be vaccinated.
That figure of 70 per cent correlates with UK Government data which displays that 70 per cent of 18 to 29-year-olds had received at least one dose of vaccine.