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Premier League players told to “stop hugging” or games will be stopped

by Ashima

The British gov have implemented new protocols to curb the spread of COVID-19. 

By Ashima Sethi

Recent outbreaks of the novel coronavirus has resulted in several English Premier League matches being postponed, including Aston Villa vs. Tottenham that was scheduled for Wednesday and Aston Villa vs. Everton, scheduled for Sunday.

The British government have since reiterated their concerns about players “kissing and hugging” during celebrations, risking infection and the league’s ability to continue during the UK’s latest surge in virus cases. 

Premier League Chief Executive, Richard Masters, recently penned a letter to football clubs, addressing the importance of adhering to the COVID-19 protocols. This comes at a time in which a new strain of the novel coronavirus has devastated the UK, with the country reporting over 83,000 deaths from the disease:

“It is already clear that we must do all we can to efficiently utilise all available calendar slots, given there have been three significant COVID-19 outbreaks at clubs to date and we should therefore realistically plan for the fact that there may be more,” he explains. “We are fortunate to be able to continue to play and bring our competition to fans at home and around the world. This brings justified additional scrutiny and the Premier League must take the lead in setting the right example to follow.” 

Football teams were also reminded that shirt-swapping after matches is banned; face coverings must be worn at all times by players, coaches and staff; and any unnecessary contact, particularly between opposition clubs, is banned. Clubs will be given punishments for ignoring these rules.

Similarly, UK Sports Minister, Nigel Huddleston also tweeted on Tuesday, claiming “Everyone in the country has had to change the way they interact with people and ways of working.  Footballers are no exception. COVID secure guidelines exist for football. Footballers must follow them and football authorities enforce them strictly.”

These stern words come after protocols were ignored during Manchester United‘s clash against Burnley this week, where Paul Pogba‘s goal led to a 1-0 win, sending United three points clear on top of the table. After a joyous on-pitch celebration, United Manager, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer told the media: “We’ll do our best to keep with the guidelines because we all want football to carry on safely.”

Deputy Chief Medical Officer for England, Jonathan Van-Tam appeared on LBC radio to discuss the issue yesterday, stating: “We are in a very dangerous place now. Every close human contact, that is avoidable, should be avoided because one in three of us will get the infection and have no symptoms at all.”

Despite the news from officials, many managers and players are skeptical about footballers being able to keep up with these protocols. Specifically, Manchester City Manager, Pep Guardiola and Arsenal Manager, Mikel Arteta, who have publicly questioned whether or not players will follow new rules. 

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