According to new reports, around two-thirds (66 per cent) of professional football players are not vaccinated against COVID-19, with many refusing the jab altogether.
At the time of writing, around 49m people in the UK have received at least one dose of the vaccine against coronavirus, but groups of players within the Premier League are avoiding the treatment, with rumours spreading that "anti-vaxx conspiracy theories" are being shared in club changing rooms.
Last week, a report by the Daily Mail highlighted that seven of the 20 clubs in the Premier League had successfully vaccinated their entire team, averaging out at one in three players.
"The PFA need to do more to educate and ultimately protect their members," a club source said to the Daily Mail. "They're hiding behind the freedom of choice argument, but they should be using their influence to allay fears and provide strong guidance."
The results follow a controversial announcement from the PM Boris Johnson, who recently announced a 'Plan B' for getting through winter, detailing that mandatory vaccine certification would be introduced at large venues and stadiums to help curb the spread of COVID-19 during winter. It's believed that this new legislation could ban unvaccinated players from their own stadiums, even at short notice.
"It’s very frustrating and hard to know what to do, as the conspiracy theories have really taken hold in some dressing rooms," a club doctor said. "We’ve got senior players, intelligent men, coming out with all sorts of nonsense and they won’t be budged. One of them told me he didn’t need the vaccine because he could boost his immunity by taking vitamins. Some of the stuff they’re reading — and believing — on the internet is incredible."
"Players are saying that it will make them infertile, that it’s part of a plot involving Bill Gates, the pandemic is just propaganda. The real problem is that they’re also polluting the minds of younger players."
Similarly, Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel explained how he doesn't "know the percentage of players vaccinated...We are also only a reflection of society, the players are adults and it’s free choice if they want to get vaccinated or not. And I think we should accept it."
"Every time someone gets it here from us or from our group, it makes us very aware the Covid situation is not over."
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