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English Football League says quarter of players not planning to get vaccine


London (AFP) – A quarter of footballers in England’s three divisions below the Premier League do not intend to be vaccinated against coronavirus as a new wave of infections threatens to bring the season to a standstill.

The English Football League (EFL) released vaccination figures on Thursday, with 10 weekend matches postponed so far in the Championship, League One and League Two due to Covid-19 outbreaks.

Pressure is also mounting on the Premier League to temporarily halt the campaign to allow for a circuit breaker as the number of matches postponed in the top-flight over the past week rose to five.

Britain is battling a surge in positive cases caused by the new Omicron strain of the virus, with a record 88,376 cases recorded on Thursday.

“The latest vaccine data collated for November has shown that 75 percent of players across the EFL are either fully vaccinated, have had a single jab or intend to be vaccinated,” the EFL said in a statement.

“Double vaccinated players total 59 percent, 16 percent are set to get the jab, while 25 percent of players currently do not intend to get a vaccine.”

The EFL confirmed it intends to continue with its programme of matches despite the rising virus numbers in what should be the busiest period of the season.

“In the wake of recent EFL fixture postponements due to Covid-19 cases at clubs, the EFL has also provided guidance on non-fulfilment of fixtures, confirming that clubs will be expected to play where (they have) 14 players including a goalkeeper available from the club’s registered squad list,” the EFL statement added.

The Premier League is under pressure to issue similar guidance over how many positive cases are required to postpone matches rather than continuing to judge each outbreak on its own merits.

Tottenham’s trip to Leicester on Thursday and Manchester United’s clash with Brighton, scheduled for Saturday, are the latest matches to be called off.

Liverpool’s meeting with Newcastle at Anfield is set to go ahead and in his programme notes Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp repeated his call for all players to be vaccinated.

“I follow the advice of smart, educated people who know their field because they’ve dedicated their lives to it and have studied it,” said Klopp.

“Ignore those who pretend to know. Ignore lies and misinformation. Listen to people who know best. If you do that, you end up wanting the vaccine and the booster.”

The German revealed on Wednesday that his entire squad has been double-vaccinated and those eligible for a booster had already had it.

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