England football manager Gareth Southgate claims he does not know which of his players are refusing to be vaccinated – but expects them to be ‘outed’ when the squad travels abroad.
Three senior team members have reportedly insisted that they are too healthy to suffer Covid-19, a decision that potentially endangers England’s World Cup hopes in Qatar next year where organisers plan to ban unvaccinated players.
At least two others are said to have refused the jabs. Some players have reportedly been pressured by their wives, while others are thought to have swallowed conspiracy theories.
Southgate said his medical team knew the names of the refuseniks – but ‘wouldn’t tell me who is and who isn’t’.
He predicted, however, that they would be exposed during Covid checks when ‘one group is going… through one door and another will go through the other over the next few months… So I don’t know quite how we are going to keep that medical confidentiality.’
Reports of England stars shunning vaccines came as Liverpool’s manager Jurgen Klopp, whose mother died of Covid-19, said refuseniks might as well argue that it is their right to drink and drive.
Revealing that 99 per cent of his players have been jabbed, Klopp said: ‘I didn’t have to convince the players. It was more a natural decision from the team.
‘We are not allowed to ask people if they are vaccinated but I’m allowed to ask a taxi driver, ‘Are you drunk?’ If he says, ‘I don’t have to tell you’, then I say OK I don’t drive with you, no problem.’
Amid concern among officials at top clubs that dressing rooms have been ‘polluted’ by senior players spreading conspiracy theories, there has been growing anger at the failure of elite players – who are role models to millions – to set an example and urge people to get vaccinated.
The captains of the 20 Premier League teams have so far resisted calls to make a joint statement to back Covid jabs – even as the uptake of vaccines in older teenagers appears to be stalling.
According to the latest Government figures, only around 55 per cent of 16 and 17-year-olds in England had their first dose by September 26 – a number which had barely risen in the previous three weeks.
In other developments:
- An investigation by The Mail on Sunday exposed fraudsters selling official NHS passes used to prove double vaccinations to people who refuse to have the injections;
- Health Secretary Sajid Javid rounded on jab refuseniks in the care sector, saying: ‘If you cannot be bothered to go and get vaccinated, then get out and go and get another job’;
- The Mail on Sunday has learned that the Pfizer vaccine will be bottled at a plant in Swindon before being sent to Belgium and distributed around the world;
- Sources claimed that the BBC is considering the introduction of a ‘no jab, no job’ rule for some of programmes in order to prevent a repeat of row over unvaccinated dancers on Strictly Come Dancing;
- The Government was criticised for refusing to release details of emails involving leading scientists over the origins of Covid-19;
- The number of people currently in hospital with Covid fell to 6,733 – the lowest level since August 22. Official figures reported 121 deaths yesterday, down almost 17 per cent week-on-week, with 768 hospital admissions, down 12 per cent;
- The global coronavirus death toll passed five million, with half of those perishing within the past eight months.
Former England player Chris Waddle also condemned the players and called for a ‘simple no jab no play’ policy, tweeting: ‘You can’t go in a stadium unless double jabbed yet the players are not jabbed – embarrassing.’
According to reports, only seven of the 20 Premier League clubs have fully vaccinated more than 50 per cent of their squads.
Leeds, Wolves, Southampton and Brentford have vaccinated more than 90 per cent of their staff.