England manager Gareth Southgate says he was targeted for abuse for backing the Covid-19 vaccination programme as he admitted it is up to individual players whether they get jabbed.
Southgate supported a government drive to get more young people vaccinated across the United Kingdom, delivering a video message in July.
It came on the back of England’s run to the final of Euro 2020, where they were beaten on penalties by Italy at Wembley.
“Oldies like me have had both jabs, so we can crack on with our lives, but for you younger ones especially, it’s the chance for everything to open up, to get your freedom back,” Southgate said in the clip.
He has now disclosed how he received more of a negative response to his contribution to the vaccine drive than he did for any footballing decision taken over the summer.
“I think the (Premier League) captains had a call with Jonathan Van-Tam (the deputy chief medical officer) from what I read,” he replied when asked if there was a concern players could be falling foul of misinformation surrounding Covid vaccines.
“So I think that information from a sort of chief medical perspective was delivered and my understanding, although I’ve not spoken to people at every, club, is that the take-up has been very varied across different clubs.
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“I’m not really going to get too involved in this because I was asked to do a video supporting the vaccination programme, which I thought was responsible and of all the things that I’ve received abuse for over the summer, of which there’s been several, that’s probably the one I’ve received the most abuse over.
“So I’m probably going to keep out of that argument for the time being.”
The question surrounding professional footballers having the Covid jab has also reared its head since the new campaign got under way.
Players can make the decision for themselves, although there have already been some cases of individuals testing positive.
England goalkeeper Dean Henderson had been sidelined with Covid, as had Newcastle’s Karl Darlow – while Arsenal’s start to the season was hit by a number of positive tests including captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and England international Ben White.
I know the take-up is very varied across clubs and that’s for individuals. If they are over 18 then they have the right to make their own decisions.
“With the vaccines it’s very much an individual situation,” Southgate said.
Manchester United and England keeper Dean Henderson has suffered with coronavirus
“Our only way out of this pandemic across the world are the vaccinations, certainly for the vulnerable people.
“I understand a lot of young people aren’t so keen, they are questioning things, I don’t know whether that is accurate or not. I never know now what to believe on social media: what’s news, what’s fake news.
“So there are all sorts of campaigns. But I think there is a slight concern that one or two younger players – Dean Henderson, Karl Darlow – have really suffered with the virus.
“So it’s not necessarily accurate to say that as a young person you are not going to have complicated symptoms.
“But I know the take-up is very varied across clubs and that’s for individuals. If they are over 18 then they have the right to make their own decisions.
“No-one is saying they have to but I think as we go through the season some of the quarantining issues with Europe and everything else are going to be more complicated if you are not vaccinated. So I don’t know if that will play a factor in how clubs feel.”
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