UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid says he is ‘disappointed’ by reports of high-profile footballers refusing to take Covid-19 vaccines, saying that players have a moral responsibility to be ‘role models’ for fans.
Javid’s comments comes amid reports that five England international players haven’t yet received a vaccination against the virus – with three senior players said to be steadfastly refusing to budge on the matter.
Reacting to the reports of vaccine hesitancy on Saturday, Javid suggested that footballers are “role models” to younger people in the United Kingdom and that they should consider their moral obligations when promoting anti-vaccine sentiment.
“I would just appeal to these people, whether they are footballers, whoever it is…that the vaccines are working,” said Javid to Times Radio.
“They’ve made a conscious choice. It is disappointing, of course it is.
“They are role models in society. People, especially young people, will look up to them and they should recognize that and the difference that can make in terms of encouraging others.”
Per a report this week from The Daily Mail, several conspiracy theories are thought to be rife in dressing rooms up and down Premier League clubs in England such as those which state that the vaccines are designed as a government spying tool, and that natural remedies such as vitamins are more effective as a treatment against Covid-19 than the various vaccines.
Also on rt.com
Javid’s comments come amid what appears to represent renewed vigor from UK authorities in persuading those who have not yet received a vaccine to sign up for one, also telling unvaccinated care workers to “get another job” if they are vaccine reluctant.
The situation has a ripple effect too: organizers of next year’s World Cup in Qatar have pushed for mandatory vaccinations of players and have stated that unvaccinated players will not be permitted entry to the country to take part in the tournament.
While more than a year remains to iron out any disagreements, the Qatari stance threatens to impede England boss Gareth Southgate’s plans for the tournament – particularly if a selection of his first team regulars are, as of now at least, ineligible to participate.
Also on rt.com
Southgate would appear to agree with Javid’s stance. In the summer he fronted a pro-vaccine video in which he urged young people to receive the shot in order to “get your freedom back“.
The FA, though, have made clear their stance as it stands today.
“This is a private matter for individuals and their respective clubs as employers. Our preparations for the forthcoming internationals continue as normal,” they said.
But if Premier League footballers continue to stand in opposition not just to the advice of public health experts but also Boris Johnson’s government, one wonders how long that particular statement will remain true.