Ireland star Callum Robinson – the first footballer to confirm he is refusing to get jabbed against Covid-19 – starts for his country in World Cup qualifier against Azerbaijan tonight as West Brom forward now looks to do his talking on the pitch
- Ireland’s Callum Robinson is the first football star to confirm he has decided not to be vaccinated against Covid-19
- The 26-year-old has contracted the virus twice, once in November 2020 and again in August
- Robinson, who is on £27,000 a week, declined to discuss his reasons this week
- He has been defended by manager Stephen Kenny, who has started him tonight
Callum Robinson was given the opportunity to do his talking on the pitch when he was named in the Republic of Ireland’s starting line-up for Saturday evening’s World Cup qualifier in Azerbaijan.
The West Brom striker found himself under the spotlight during the run-up to the game after revealing he had not been vaccinated against Covid-19 despite twice contracting the virus, but he was included by manager Stephen Kenny in one of two changes to the side who drew 1-1 with Serbia last month.
Ireland boss Kenny has this week defended ‘vilified’ striker Callum Robinson after he admitted that he has not been vaccinated against Covid-19.
Robinson, 26, revealed during the build-up to today’s World Cup qualifier that he has decided not to have the jab and has since endured a tide of criticism.
Kenny, who has been double-vaccinated and has urged his staff and players to follow suit, said: ‘What I can say about Callum Robinson is that he’s such a popular member of the squad. He’s a breath of fresh air. He has great qualities as a man, great qualities as a human being.
‘He has attracted a lot of criticism because he just came into a press conference and where the vast majority of players refuse to answer the questions, he was open and transparent and he has been vilified for it.
‘But he is a terrific person and I think all of the players would verify that.’
Callum Robinson was named in the Republic of Ireland’s starting line-up on Saturday evening
Ireland’s Robinson, 26, has admitted he has chosen not to be vaccinated against Covid-19
Sheffield United defender John Egan did not necessarily agree with his international team-mate — but backed his right to choose.
Egan said: ‘Cal was asked a question, he gave an answer. He didn’t come out and say he was against the vaccination or anything, so I was quite disappointed to see how many people jumped down his throat.
‘Everybody can choose whether to get the vaccination or not; it’s a personal choice.
‘As a team-mate and friend, I back my team-mates, I back my friends.
‘It doesn’t mean that I believe the same way.’
Just days after Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp expressed his exasperation with Premier League players who have not been double-jabbed, Robinson – who is on £27,000 a week with his club West Brom – spoke of his decision not to do so.
Kenny has launched a staunch defence of the ‘vilified’ Callum Robinson
Asked if he had been vaccinated, he replied: ‘I haven’t been vaccinated, no. That’s my choice at this moment in time.
‘It’s obviously annoying that I’ve caught it twice but I haven’t been vaccinated. Further down the line I could change my mind and want to do it, but at this moment in time I haven’t been vaccinated, no.’
Asked why, Robinson (who played in the Premier League last season) added: ‘I just haven’t, I just haven’t done it. I think it’s your personal choice and my choice at this moment in time, I haven’t been vaccinated.
‘I know, as you said, there are managers and people that will want you to do it, which is right in their way, the way they think, but everyone has their choice on what they want to do. I wouldn’t force people to do it, it’s your choice and your body.’
Robinson’s revelation comes after it emerged last week around two-thirds of Premier League players are not vaccinated against the virus.
Most of Newcastle’s players have not been vaccinated despite seeing goalkeeper Karl Darlow lose two stone after being hospitalised with the virus
The League remain concerned as the limited nature of many clubs’ vaccination programmes increases the chances of damaging Covid outbreaks, but they have been reassured after receiving more details of the Government’s winter plan.
Many fans may object to players being spared compulsory vaccination when they are not, but the Government are wary of the legal implications of making vaccination a condition of employment.
Only seven of the 20 Premier League clubs have fully vaccinated more than 50 per cent of their squads. While Leeds, Wolves, Southampton and Brentford have vaccinated more than 90 per cent of their staff, at least three clubs have yet to get even 10 individuals jabbed.