Football: Premier League threatens to punish players over Covid-19 breaches

LONDON (REUTERS) – The Premier League on Friday (Jan 8) issued clubs new measures to combat the spread of Covid-19, threatening disciplinary action against players who breach training or matchday protocols.

In a letter to all 20 top flight clubs, the league reiterated that players should not hug each other and shirt-swapping should stop in an attempt to limit the spread of the virus.

The British government has allowed elite sports to continue despite the country being placed into strict lockdown amid a surge in coronavirus cases.

However, a number of players flouted government rules over the Christmas period and the league has told clubs there should be a thorough investigation of those incidents.

“It is vital to ensure public, government and stakeholder confidence in the training and match-day protocols that individual transgressions by relevant persons are appropriately investigated and sanctioned by clubs,” the league said in a letter.

“Failure to do so may result in disciplinary action by the league individually against the relevant person, where appropriate (for example, where his or her conduct brings the league into disrepute) and/or against the club (where the relevant person’s conduct constitutes a breach of the training protocol).”

The league said clinical passports will be used by players and staff at training grounds which can be inspected by the league’s compliance officers, who can also make spot-checks.

The new measures come after Covid-19 outbreaks have led to four league matches being postponed and more than 50 games in the lower divisions of the English Football League being called off this season.

Earlier on Friday, Aston Villa reported 10 Covid-19 cases within their first-team squad, leaving their upcoming home league games against Tottenham Hotspur and Everton in doubt.

Villa’s chief executive Christian Purslow told Sky Sports: “There are moments when young people will stray from the rules and, whether you’re a parent or the chief executive of a football club, that’s a time when you have to be very strict and remind people of their responsibilities.”

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