KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTING —- European football’s governing body is to step up its campaign urging all players and officials to be vaccinated against Covid-19.
President Aleksander Ceferin promoted the latest step in UEFA’s campaign after an executive committee meeting whose staging had again been forced by the pandemic to be held online.
Ceferin was addressing a media briefing just as pressure was building up in England for the Premier League to call off all weekend fixtures after government and health service concerns about the fast-spreading omicron variant.
Outbreaks among players and staff had forced the postponement of las weekend’s match between Brighton and Tottenham and the midweek clashes between Brentford and Manchester United as well as Burnley and Watford. Tonight’s match between Leicester and Tottenham has also fallen victim to the pandemic.
Ceferin described how UEFA had just launched a new video promoting vaccination which would be distributed to all Europe’s 55 national associations for them to offer to leagues for use by clubs and players’ organisations.
He said: “We should promote vaccination and we already started but we don’t have the power to force anyone to be vaccinated. The video is only doctors speaking, explaining why vaccination is so important.
“I believe in science and I got vaccinated. I believe players should be vaccinated as soon as possible. It is a personal choice but people are not stupid.
“Vaccination is good. All the facts and figures show that all vaccinated people are less likely to get infected. Sooner or later the vast majority will understand it.”
Ceferin refused to comment directly about the likelihood of Tottenham being expelled from the Europa Conference League after a Covid outbreak among players and staff led to the postponement of last week’s tie against Rennes in North London.
The clubs could not agree on a restaging date before the December 31 so UEFA’s disciplinary committee is likely to consider Tottenham as having forfeited the tie.
Ceferin, reviewing UEFA’s general policy on Covid-hit matches, said: “Our regulations are clear. I know it sometimes looks unfair but if we didn’t have clear rules we wouldn’t be able to finish a season.”
He was proud of the manner in which European football had maintained competition mid the crisi.
Ceferin said: “It’s been a tough year for all of us. It was probably impossible to think we could have faced so many challenges in a year and a half or two years but it happened and I’m proud of the unity of European football – all of the national associations, the clubs, leagues, fans, media and this society.
“I’m sure European football, despite the difficulties with Covid and some other challenges, will be even stronger in the future.”