Pep: ‘Footballers cannot be blamed for COVID-19 surge’

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Footballers should not be held responsible for fuelling coronavirus infections because of how they celebrate, Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has said.

City’s players, among others, faced criticism this week after they came together to celebrate Phil Foden’s goal against Brighton, despite renewed warnings from the Premier League to avoid hugging and kissing.

Julian Knight, the Conservative MP who chairs the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee, called their antics “brainless”, while another committee member, Labour MP Clive Efford, described them as an “insult to the NHS”.

Guardiola, whose mother died in April after contracting coronavirus, said everyone at the club is doing all they can to follow the protocols at a time when many areas of life are hugely restricted due to the latest national lockdown. But he insisted the behaviour of footballers would not have any influence on the progression of the pandemic.

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“A lot of people are dying, unfortunately, every day and a lot of people are being infected,” he said.

“We are going to do our best to follow the new rules from the Government. The scientists, (they) inform us what we have to do – but please, the situation that is happening in the UK is not due to football players.”

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