England manager Gareth Southgate believes players called up for this summer’s European Championship should be considered for PRIORITY Covid vaccines… to safeguard participation in the tournament
- Elite athletes have not been given the jab as the NHS prioritise other groups
- England boss Gareth Southgate says England players should now be considered
- The Government says it’s on track to offer a first dose to adults by the end of July
- But with the Euros starting in June, such a scenario could mean tournament personnel jumping the vaccination queue
England manager Gareth Southgate believes players should be considered for priority Covid vaccines to safeguard this summer’s European Championship.
The UK’s vaccination programme has been hugely successful, with the vast majority of vulnerable people given the jab.
So far, elite athletes have not as the NHS prioritises the vulnerable, key workers and elderly. But Southgate says there is now an argument for those involved in the Euros to be vaccinated beforehand to ensure it runs smoothly.
Gareth Southgate believes England players should be considered for priority Covid vaccines
With the Euros starting in June, players may not get the jab in time for the tournament’s start
The Government says it is still on track to offer a first dose to all adults by the end of July. But with the Euros starting in June, such a scenario could mean tournament personnel jumping the vaccination queue.
When asked if those playing and working at the Euros should be vaccinated to safeguard the tournament, Southgate said: ‘The situation changes so quickly but we are close to getting to the point where it would be acceptable for professional sportsmen to be on that list.
‘Our vaccination programme has been incredible as 25 million people have had one and nearly all the vulnerable people have had the first vaccine.
‘We are asking the players to keep on performing. They are having to quarantine when they get back from certain situations. They are having to take some risk going back to families and a lot of them have caught the virus because they have been working.
Southgate says it’s close to the point where professional athletes should be on the priority list
‘I was not in any way suggesting they should have been ahead of key workers and teachers, who should be ahead, but we are getting close to the point where it could be acceptable and actually football could afford to save the NHS money by buying the vaccines and administering them.
‘They could take the weight off the NHS and it would stop a lot of the restrictions and money we are wasting — not wasting because we are spending it for the right reasons — but we are spending a lot of money on testing and extra coaches for travel.
‘That might be thrown up in the air because of the bump we have hit on supply, but that view has to be measured as to being responsible with the bigger picture.
‘But we are moving to the stage where we are asking athletes to be put into situations where they are more likely to catch the virus than others and we have a responsibility to them as well.’
FIFA president Gianni Infantino said in February that footballers were not a vaccine priority
In February, FIFA president Gianni Infantino, said footballers were not a priority for vaccination.
Speaking at the launch of a joint campaign with the World Health Organisation (WHO) to promote fair access to vaccines, he said he was not a supporter of footballers jumping the queue.
‘The priority for the vaccines is, of course, the people at risk and for health workers. This is very clear in our mind. I don’t consider, we don’t consider, football players as a priority group in this respect,’ he told a news conference.
However, Infantino appeared to leave open the possibility that this could change.
He added: ‘Of course for safety reasons, in the context of the months to come, in the context of international competitions and travel, vaccination might be recommended at some point and the Olympic Games are, of course, only in the summer.’