Republic of Ireland international Callum Robinson has admitted he has chosen not to be vaccinated against Covid-19 despite being twice laid low by the virus and is the first high-profile footballer to admit he has not got the jab.
The 26-year-old West Brom striker, who had already missed games for his country as a close contact, first tested positive in November last year and then again in August, meaning he had to sit out last month’s World Cup qualifiers.
But 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 – has spoken of his decision not to do so.
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.’
Ireland international Callum Robinson has admitted he has chosen not to be vaccinated against Covid-19
Robinson first tested positive in November last year and then again in August, meaning he had to sit out last month’s World Cup qualifiers
Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp (above) could not believe how many players have refused the jab
Ireland manager Stephen Kenny admitted it could be a step too far to select only those who were covered
Robinson, who declined to discuss his reasons, continues to be tested regularly along with his team-mates and he is not the only member of the Ireland squad not to have been vaccinated, with manager Stephen Kenny, who has seen his reign to date repeatedly disrupted by coronavirus, confirming several players are in the same situation.
However Kenny, who has had both injections, admitted it could be a step too far to select only those who were covered despite under-21s boss Jim Crawford having had to leave seven UK and Germany-based players out of his squad for a trip to Montenegro, which is on the red list of both countries.
He said: ‘Well, I think it would be quite a radical viewpoint to just say, “Right, whoever is not vaccinated is not being selected in the future”.
‘I’m not aware of anybody who has done this in any sport at the moment, so for me to just come and decide that would be extremely radical.
‘I was very happy to be (vaccinated) myself and encouraged staff and players. Of course it seems like the most sensible thing to do, and the safest with regard to our environment.
‘There are a lot of myths and a lot of issues around virility that people are concerned about and other issues, you know, and I do think it is complex. I am not a medical expert, but I do trust the experts and I do think it is better to be double-vaccinated.’
Robinson’s revelation comes after it emerged last week around two-thirds of Premier League players are not vaccinated against the virus.
Club officials are complaining that dressing rooms have been ‘polluted’ by senior players spreading conspiracy theories involving Bill Gates, infertility and the power of vitamins.
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.
Overnight, reports state that Manchester United are still a long way from getting the majority of their squad vaccinated against coronavirus and their rivals are getting frustrated with the club over the issue.
Manchester United’s lack of Covid vaccine uptake has frustrated the rest of the Premier League, say reports
The Red Devils are reportedly not close to the likes of Liverpool and Leeds (both pictured) whose squads are close to 100 per cent fully vaccinated
According to The Times, Man United’s lack of Covid-19 uptake has frustrated the rest of the league, who see the Red Devils as the biggest and most influential club in the country.
The report adds that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s squad are not close to the likes of Liverpool and Leeds in terms of their high vaccine uptake, despite the opposite message coming out of the club.
Overall, data came out last week stating that only seven clubs’ squads are more than 50 per cent fully vaccinated in England’s top-flight league. The data is surprising given a Mail on Sunday report found that a quarter of Premier League first-team squads have had Covid during the pandemic.
A Premier League document stated: ‘We are considering if and how best we can “reward” those squads/players who are most Covid-compliant and who have opted to be vaccinated.’
DID PLAYERS GET ‘WRONG’ JAB?
Premier League clubs have been told that two Covid-19 jabs most used in South America are not recognised in the rules governing players’ quarantine exemption.
Sources in Brazil said some overseas based players who were not vaccinated before the Copa America in July received the Chinese produced CoronaVac, key to the country’s vaccine rollout.
The Russian produced Sputnik vaccine, meanwhile, is among the most widely used in Argentina. Yet the Mail on Sunday has learnt that neither is on the list of vaccines authorised for use in Britain or Europe — a requirement of the Premier League’s exemption.
The Government last night confirmed that players who have had either jab would not be exempt from the 10-day isolation when they return from World Cup qualifiers in red-listed countries.
Tottenham, Man City and Liverpool declined to reveal information about the vaccination status of players travelling to red-listed countries.
A dispute over quarantine last month led to most Premier League clubs holding back players from representing red-listed nations, including Brazil.
Jurgen Klopp, manager of United’s arch-rivals Liverpool, admitted his disbelief at the sheer number of players who are refusing to get the coronavirus jab last week, by reiterating the argument that the vaccine helps other people as well as individuals.
The German, whose mother passed away from Covid-19 last year, said: ‘We’ve all probably been in the situation where we had a beer or two and thought we still could drive but the law says we’re not allowed to, so we don’t.
‘This law is not for protecting me, it’s for protecting all the other people. The vaccination is the same.
Meanwhile, unvaccinated England stars look set to be able to play at next year’s World Cup in Qatar following reports at least five Three Lions players have refused to have the Covid jab.
FIFA are in talks with Qatari authorities about scrapping the mandatory vaccination requirements for the showpiece tournament in 2022.
Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Khalifa bin Abdulaziz Al Thani announced in June that it would require any fans wanting entry into next year’s tournament to be fully inoculated against the coronavirus.
England’s players pose for a team photo before the UEFA EURO 2020 qualifying Group A match between England and Montenegro at Wembley. There is no suggestion those pictured are refusing a vaccine
Gareth Southgate is concerned about the reluctance among England players to take the jab
For the first time on Sunday, FIFA encouraged for footballers to get vaccinated, leading to fears that unvaccinated players would be banned from playing at the tournament.
But FIFA and Qatari officials are now discussing the possibility that fans, players and officials will be able to provide proof of having recovered from Covid-19 or produce negative tests, a person familiar with the talks told The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity to reveal ongoing discussions.
Qatar World Cup organisers and the Qatari government did not respond to a request for comment.
The girlfriend of England star John Stones reposted an anti-vaxx message on Instagram last week.
Olivia Naylor (left), the partner of England’s John Stones (right), reposted an anti-vaxx message this week to her 45,000 Instagram followed. It is not known whether Manchester City Stones is one of the five England players to have turned down the jab
His girlfriend applauded a recent post (pictured) highlighting comments from basketball star Jonathan Isaacs, who claimed he’d be protected from the virus by natural immunity
Beauty clinic boss Olivia Naylor uploaded a recent post highlighting comments from NBA basketball star Jonathan Isaac, who claimed he’d be protected from the virus by natural immunity.
It is feared the reposting by the England star’s partner – who has 45,000 Instagram followers — will dissuade others from having the vaccine.
It was reported over the weekend that footballers have given a string of ‘nonsense’ reasons for not having the jab.