Crystal Palace star Andros Townsend insists football’s Covid rulebreakers SHOULDN’T be punished in a bizarre defence of lockdown-flouting players, because he says it will lead to the media ‘harassing’ footballers
- Palace star Andros Townsend is against a ban for players breaking Covid rules
- The winger fears footballers could be ‘harrassed’ by the media if punished
- Townsend claimed members of the press could ‘camp outside players’ houses’
- A number of stars came under fire over the festive period for attending parties
- With the UK entering a lockdown, there have been calls for stricter punishments
Crystal Palace winger Andros Townsend says he is firmly against players being banned for breaking Covid rules after a number of stars came under fire during the festive period.
English football has faced fears it could be suspended after rising coronavirus cases in the Premier League and EFL, with teams such as Manchester City and Fulham suffering from outbreaks in recent weeks. The UK entered its third lockdown on Monday night but elite sport has been allowed to continue.
Over the Christmas period there was anger as a crop of players were pictured attending parties, with Tottenham trio Giovani Lo Celso, Sergio Reguilon and Erik Lamela posing for a picture with family and friends alongside West Ham midfielder Manuel Lanzini.
Andros Townsend believes footballers should not be banned for breaking Covid-19 rules
Three Spurs stars and a West Ham player (identified above) broke rules to party despite Covid-19 restrictions in place over the Christmas period
Tottenham and West Ham condemned players for breaching protocols, with Reguilon and Lamela both missing their 3-0 win over Leeds on Saturday, while City defender Benjamin Mendy was on the bench against Chelsea after hosting a New Years’ Eve party.
It has led to calls for sterner punishments to act as a deterrent, with a three-match ban mooted, but Townsend is concerned that it could lead to players being ‘harrassed’ by members of the press.
He told talkSPORT: ‘You start introducing a three-game ban and you’re going to start getting journalists camping outside players houses like they did with Kyle Walker back in the first lockdown.
Kyle Walker came under fire for breaching protocols during the first lockdown last year
‘Following players from their house to training, harrassing them, trying to get players to trip up so they can get them a three-match ban.
‘I just think, “where would it go to if we did do that?”‘.
The first lockdown saw a handful of Premier League stars breaking rules as Walker was criticised for holding a party at his home last April, while he was also accused of visiting his family in Sheffield a month later.
Meanwhile, Aston Villa captain Jack Grealish came under fire after crashing his £80,000 Range Rover following a 4am party in March.
The Crystal Palace winger fears player could be ‘harrassed’ by the media if they are punished
Sportsmail understands that the Premier League, English Football League and the Football Association do not see it as their job to intervene if players break rules and are happy for clubs to take their own action.
Fans have spoken out vehemently about what they see as a lack of action by the clubs at a time Covid infection rates are rising sharply across the country, death rates are increasing and three-quarters of England is subject to the tightest possible restrictions.
Some, including Watford striker Troy Deeney, claim the clubs will not ban players for breaching Covid rules because they want to win matches. Crystal Palace captain Luka Milivojevic was pictured with Fulham’s Aleksandar Mitrovic on New Year’s Eve but played in his side’s 2-0 win over Sheffield United on the weekend.
City boss Pep Guardiola refused to criticise Mendy after he was slammed for breaching safety protocols on New Years’ Eve, claiming many others would have behaved in a similar manner.
Benjamin Mendy was defended by City boss Pep Guardiola after hosting New Years Eve party
‘Benjamin already had Covid in the past,’ he said after his side’s 3-1 win over Chelsea on Sunday.
‘He has been tested every day like all the other players. He has explained, he knows what he has done and he will learn in the future.
‘He is part of the group, he is one of the guys who is much beloved in our group. In the stands today he was the most active player. He is a special guy for us and has an incredible heart.
‘But he has to understand some things. I would like to know how many people did this on New Year’s Eve, but normally in this society we judge the others when first we should judge ourselves.’
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