Almost two-thirds of top-flight players are yet to be fully vaccinated against coronavirus with many refusing the jab altogether, according to reports.
The UK’s vaccine rollout has been a huge success since it started and to date, nearly 49 million people across the UK have had their first dose.
But it seems among football’s elite, many are refusing to get protected against the virus with the Daily Mail claiming senior players in some Premier League dressing rooms are spouting anti-vaxx conspiracy theories involving Bill Gates, infertility and the power of vitamins to justify their decisions.
Premier League football is now back to ‘normal’ with stadiums full following last season’s disruption, but footballers are still contracting the virus and players being ruled out of matches due to isolation, which continues to cause managerial headaches.
As of last week, the Daily Mail report only seven of the 20 top-flight clubs have succeeded in fully vaccinating 50 per cent of their squads with the overall average said to be approximately one-third of all players.
The Premier League are reportedly concerned there could be further disruption to the season following the Government’s warning last month that compulsory certification could be introduced at one week’s notice.
However, they’ve been reassured by the Government’s winter proposals that any compulsory certification would only apply to visitors to large venues – footballers and members of staff would be exempt providing they test negative.
But that hasn’t stopped club doctors growing concerned that the wrong message is being spread about the vaccine in dressing rooms.
‘It’s very frustrating and hard to know what to do, as the conspiracy theories have really taken hold in some dressing rooms,’ one club doctor told the newspaper.
‘We’ve got senior players, intelligent men, coming out with all sorts of nonsense and they won’t be budged.
‘One of them told me he didn’t need the vaccine because he could boost his immunity by taking vitamins.
‘Some of the stuff they’re reading — and believing — on the internet is incredible.
‘Players are saying that it will make them infertile, that it’s part of a plot involving Bill Gates, the pandemic is just propaganda. The real problem is that they’re also polluting the minds of younger players.’
Earlier this week, Sky Sports revealed results of their survey about vaccinations among players at Premier League clubs with Wolves confirming that all of their first team squad is fully vaccinated.
Others, like Brentford and Leeds, have more than 90 per cent of their players vaccinated.
While the majority of football’s biggest stars have opted not to go public in revealing whether or not they’ve had the jab, managers have often been questioned about the vaccine uptake.
England boss Gareth Southgate generally remains supportive of the vaccination, while Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel recently admitted he did not know the number of jabbed up players in his squad after N’Golo Kante tested positive and was ruled out of their Champions League defeat to Juventus on Wednesday.
‘I don’t know the percentage of players vaccinated actually. It’s not even that I don’t want to tell you but I simply don’t know it,’ Tuchel said.
‘And we are also only a reflection of society, the players are adults and it’s free choice if they want to get vaccinated or not. And I think we should accept it.
‘Every time someone gets it here from us or from our group, it makes us very aware the Covid situation is not over.
‘I hope that it gets as less as possible but I clearly don’t have a solution. I can make the decision for myself, and everybody else needs to reflect about it and take a risk or not.
‘I think it’s a serious question and vaccination seems to be a proper protection. I am vaccinated, I took the decision for myself. But I don’t really see myself in a position to speak out proper recommendations, I think that would go too far.
‘I’m a football coach, I’m not a 100 per cent expert in this and I would leave it up to them. And everybody is adult enough and everybody lives in a free country and a free society, which is a good thing, so people can make their choices.
‘Of course we take actions and then are responsible for them, and we don’t like to lose players. But we are not now angry with N’Golo, of course not, we are concerned about him and worried about him, as we are with any injured players who get a kick in a game.’
Earlier this month, Arsenal star Granit Xhaka tested positive for coronavirus and missed matches as the Swiss FA confirmed the midfielder had declined the vaccine.
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