London (AFP) – England manager Gareth Southgate says footballers should be offered coronavirus vaccines soon as they are being asked to take risks by playing regularly during the pandemic.
The UK, hit hard by the Covid-19 crisis, this week passed the mark of 25 million jabs delivered as part of a rapid rollout.
Footballers do not fall into the categories vaccinated so far, based on factors such as age and existing medical conditions, but have been travelling for club and international matches since the sport resumed last year.
Southgate feels a strain could be taken off the state-run National Health Service (NHS) if football were able to step in and begin its own vaccination programme.
The England boss, speaking after announcing his squad for World Cup qualifiers, admitted a looming vaccine supply shortfall could prove a stumbling block.
“My view would have been we were close to getting to the point where it would have been acceptable for professional sportsmen to be on that list,” he said. “We are asking them to keep playing.
“They are having to quarantine when they get back from certain situations. They are having to take some risk going back to families and a lot of them have caught the virus because they have been working.
“I was not in any way suggesting they should have been ahead of key workers and teachers… but we are getting close to the points where it could be acceptable and actually, football could afford to save the NHS money by buying the vaccines and administering them.”
Players are set to travel again for international matches this month and some may be forced to quarantine on their return.
England open their 2022 World Cup qualifying campaign against San Marino at home on March 25. They have an away fixture against Albania three days later and host Poland on March 31.
200+ Channels With Sports & News
- Starting price: $33/mo. for fubo Latino Package
- Watch Premier League, World Cup, Euro 2024 & more
- Includes NBC, USA, FOX, ESPN, CBSSN & more
Live & On Demand TV Streaming
- Price: $35/mo. for Sling Blue
- Watch Premier League, World Cup & MLS
- Includes USA, NBC, FOX, FS1 + more
Many Sports & ESPN Originals
- Price: $6.99/mo. (or get ESPN+, Hulu & Disney+ for $13.99/mo.)
- Features Bundesliga, LaLiga, Championship, & more
- Also includes daily ESPN FC news & highlights show
2,000+ soccer games per year
- Price: $4.99/mo
- Features Champions League, Serie A, Europa League & NWSL
- Includes CBS, Star Trek & CBS Sports HQ
175 Premier League Games & PL TV
- Starting price: $4.99/mo. for Peacock Premium
- Watch 175 exclusive EPL games per season
- Includes Premier League TV channel plus movies, TV shows & more
- MLS Earthquakes name US assistant Gonzalez as coach
- What it’s like watching the Premier League from Hawaii
- Ineos billionaire Ratcliffe ‘potential buyer’ of Man Utd
- Mendy rape accuser tells UK court she tried to fight off footballer
- Man Utd legend Giggs cites disciplinary record in assault trial
- Christian Pulisic’s ominous, but necessary, move to Man United
- Sevilla sign youngster Nianzou from Bayern
- Ronaldo cautioned by police after allegedly slapping phone from fan’s hand
- PSG defender Kehrer joins West Ham
- Dubai airport gears up to handle World Cup supporters