The Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) has reminded players to embrace a sensible approach to celebrating goals amid the COVID-19 crisis and refrain from hugging or getting too close to each other, The Times newspaper reported.
Four Premier League games and over 50 games in the English Football League – which governs the three divisions below the top flight – have been postponed this season with some FA Cup ties this weekend in doubt.
“We’ve sent a message to all our members saying, ‘you have done a great job, you’ve kept the game going and you deserve a lot of credit, but it’s important you keep to the protocols,” PFA chief executive Gordon Taylor told The Times.
“Always abide by what you’re being told by doctors and medical staff with regard to the protocols about keeping your distance and the hygiene that’s required.
“I understand with the celebration of a goal it’s difficult to just put the ball in the back of the net and act as though nothing has happened.
“It’s that adrenaline rush… that’s what the game is all about, but that’s part and parcel of the process, so they’ll be reminded.”
Declan Kidney, the director of rugby of London Irish, said players may resort to creative, choreographed celebrations after Premiership Rugby introduced similar protocols to combat the virus.
“You could see some ridiculous celebrations, but if they’re safer, I’d prefer to see ridiculous and safe,” Kidney said.
Several soccer players have also breached COVID-19 guidelines by attending events on New Year’s Eve, including Fulham’s Aleksandar Mitrovic who was rebuked by manager Scott Parker.
“He understands he’s made a mistake,” Parker said. “It was irresponsible. It’s not acceptable. We’ve dealt with that as a club internally.”
But Taylor said players “are human beings and this happens”, adding that was the reason for the PFA’s reminder on protocols.