English football authorities are “confident” the 2020-21 season can be completed as scheduled if coronavirus protocols are followed with “full compliance”.
The Football Association, Premier League, English Football League released a joint statement on Thursday reiterating the importance of following newly enhanced Covid-19 measures.
The message comes as professional matches continue to be called off with regularity, with Aston Villa’s match against Everton on Sunday the latest Premier League fixture to be postponed.
“The Football Association, Premier League, EFL and Barclays Women’s Super League have this week introduced enhanced COVID-19 measures and stressed their importance to everyone in the game,” the statement said.
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“Safety is a collective effort and football requires the ongoing support of clubs, managers, players and all those involved in staging matches to continue to manage the spread of infection and set the right example to the public on and off the pitch. We will offer guidance, education and support as well as reviewing our practices to ensure they remain of the highest standard.
“Our three organisations have confidence in our COVID-19 protocols and our ability to bring the season to a successful conclusion.”
With players having been reminded of their responsibilities after several breaches of social distancing rules away from the football pitch during the festive period, the focus now appears to have moved to on-field interactions.
Referees have been told to remind players of the need to maintain social distancing as much as possible during games, particularly when celebrating goals.
Several Premier League bosses, including Pep Guardiola and Frank Lampard, have defended players over goal celebrations, with the Manchester City manager describing hugging teammates after a goal as an “instinctive” reaction.
The statement continued: “Throughout this crisis, the health, safety and well-being of all participants has been our number one priority and by following the national rules and football’s own strict medical and scientific advice, football has been able to maintain its privileged position and continue to engage and entertain millions of people around the country.
“The game has a responsibility and during this next critical period it is down to everyone involved to ensure they follow Government rules and our protocols. We have seen the huge contribution players have made to the national effort and they must continue to use their influence in demonstrating the importance of following the rules.
“With full compliance to our COVID-19 protocols – alongside effective testing regimes – we are confident at the halfway point of the season that, with the support of all, the 2020/21 campaign will continue to its conclusion in May.”
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