Top virologist Dr. Julian Tang says referees must be empowered to book or even send football players to attend hand-to-hand combat celebrations as the threat of the Covid-19 pandemic continues to impact the sport.
Amid the various restrictions put in place to slow the spread of the potentially deadly virus, including banning fans from participating in games en masse, Dr. Tang that some blind spots within the rules have become apparent as the infection rate skyrockets in the UK
He cites the example of players hugging during goal celebrations as a clear and obvious threat to the health and safety of the players.
This criticism comes from the spotlight on football across the country as more and more players violate coronavirus guidelines and social distancing rules in locker rooms – an issue with which political leaders have expressed “growing frustration”.
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For this reason, Dr. Tang explains that while the UK government is struggling with the spread of the virus and its new variants, the referees should be given the power to punish players who violate the guidelines on the field of play.
“If you have [players congregating]They are in close contact for a few seconds and that can transmit the virus, “warned the associate professor at the University of Leicester.
“You go home and can distribute it in your own bladder, which could include older friends and family members, who could take you to the hospital or cause your death.
So why take the risk for yourself or your contacts with a single 10 or 20 second scrum? You don’t have to. If it happens once you get a yellow card and if it happens again you are turned off .
“It is a chilling incentive for this contact to realize that it could have far greater consequences.”
Despite the myriad of rules put in place since football returned from its enforced hiatus last year, there have been countless examples of players disregarding guidelines on the field – especially during goal celebrations.
The FA, Premier League and EFL are believed to be reminding clubs of their responsibilities this weekend after Chorley and Crawley Town were celebrated wildly in their dressing rooms after their respective FA Cup scalps against Derby County and Leeds United respectively.
The Premier League recently announced the worst week of positive Covid-19 tests after the holiday season, reflecting the surge in cases across several regions of the UK.
So far, however, no single club has received a sanction for violating guidelines on partying – despite League Two Grimsby Town accepting a £ 4,880 suspended sentence for violating coronavirus rules, following an investigation by the English Football League on Tuesday.
“If you want to play, be more careful,” added Dr. Tang added. “If the players understand the risk and support it, the rules can change and everyone accepts it for six months.”
This could be difficult to implement: The Premier League, for example, has set out that it is not part of the referee’s role to require social distancing on the field of play.
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Critics say Dr. Tang’s approach looks good on paper but is virtually impossible to enforce – an attitude Everton boss Carlo Ancelotti agrees with.
“To be honest, there is no rule that says you can’t party,” he said recently.
“We strictly adhere to the Premier League rules and protocols.
“And when the Premier League says you don’t have to celebrate, you don’t have to hug, we are not going to celebrate.”
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