DANNY MURPHY: Players who flout Covid rules should be hit with fines AND match bans… football cannot be divorced from the reality of what is happening in the world
- Players must adhere to coronavirus guidelines or football cannot continue
- Players who continue to flout the rules should be hit with bans and fines
- Without proper sanctions for offenders, players will continue to break the rules
I have a vested interest in keeping football going, I love the game like millions of others and work in the industry as well. I understand it brings a feel-good factor in difficult times.
But we can’t allow football to be divorced from the reality of what is happening in the rest of the world. If we want matches to continue, and ideally we do, players have to adhere to rules and guidelines otherwise the moral argument to carry on becomes impossible to make.
I know how young footballers think, I was one once, and wealth and fame can give you an ego where you think normal rules don’t apply. It’s not malicious but it’s the reality and you need a proper deterrent to stop.
Football players who flout national coronavirus rules should be hit with bans and fines
If players think there are no consequences to their actions apart from having to conjure up an apology with the help of a PR specialist, there is no reason for them to change their behaviour.
It’s why I think the Premier League have to act now and come up with a disciplinary procedure that anyone in the game who flouts lockdown rules receives a three-match ban and gets fined two weeks’ wages.
It should have happened already but should certainly be introduced now with cases on the rise, quite alarmingly in some areas of the country.
The reality is if we do nothing and some players think they are above the guidelines, the entire fixture list will come to a grinding halt.
Crystal Palace captain Luka Milivojevic (left) celebrates at a New Year’s Eve party with Fulham’s Aleksandar Mitrovic – in another breach of Covid-19 rules by Premier League footballers
Footballers have even more of an obligation to follow the rules and I am sure clubs are making their obligations crystal clear.
Even in my day, they would hammer home messages on social media or drug testing, so any player now who mixes socially outside their bubble has no excuse — they have been warned.
Now the message has to be to ‘behave better for football to continue’. I’ve noticed the disdain, even disgust in some places, at the way footballers gathered together over Christmas against tier rules. I know it’s a small minority of players, but it is still too many.
And I’m not naive, I know other people are doing exactly the same thing, but footballers are in an industry we hope will carry on and bring some much-needed joy in the coming months, so they have to observe protocols.
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Tottenham’s Sergio Reguilon, Erik Lamela and Giovani Lo Celso were fined and reminded of their responsibilities after they were pictured in a large group photo alongside West Ham’s Manuel Lanzini and their families on Christmas Day.
Manchester City say they are investigating after Benjamin Mendy held a New Year’s Eve party which included guests from outside his household. He was a substitute in City’s next game.
Crystal Palace and Fulham launches investigations into Aleksandar Mitrovic and Luka Milivojevic after they were pictured partying together – but Palace fielded the midfielder as captain in their next game.
There are many times players want to use their platforms for other things, whether it is to support social issues or charity events, and they can’t have it both ways and expect empathy if they defy rules on Covid.
It goes without saying, many families have suffered in different ways, whether in terms of health, employment or finances.
I know a footballer’s mentality. You generally don’t see misbehaviour when you know the punishment fits the misdemeanour.
At the moment, there doesn’t seem to be much sanction; say sorry, isolate for a few days and carry on.
If the FA, Premier League and clubs come up with a structure where players know they miss games, that will be a deterrent.
Ninety-nine per cent of players are hurt by not playing and even though they are millionaires, they won’t want heavy fines either.
There has been more talk of players getting vaccines early in order for the Premier League to continue.
Sean Dyche proposed it last week. I think it’s fine to think outside the box and try to come up with solutions but I don’t think this plan would work.
However it is proposed, and I do appreciate Sean was coming from the vantage point of suggesting the NHS could get the money saved on testing, it is still the essential principle that because you’ve got wealth you would get the vaccine first.
I don’t think it’s the right message when frontline NHS workers are putting their lives at risk and should be first in the queue regardless of wealth.
Sean Dyche’s call for players to get vaccinated is not the right message football should make