Gareth Southgate cites ‘medical confidentiality’ over issue of Covid jabs

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England manager Gareth Southgate has suggested medical confidentiality is the basis for his players not publicly sharing their Covid vaccination status.

The Three Lions are preparing for World Cup qualifiers against Andorra and Hungary during the seventh international get-together since coronavirus changed the landscape.

This camp comes amid fresh scrutiny about vaccination rates within football and as organisers of the Qatar World Cup are reportedly planning to ban unvaccinated players.

Southgate last week admitted he did not know how many of his group had received both doses and his players have given little indication of their vaccination status in media activity since joining up with the squad at St George’s Park.

It remains unclear how many professional footballers have been vaccinated against Covid.
It remains unclear how many professional footballers have been vaccinated against Covid (Steve Parsons/PA)

The England boss did a video urging the public to be vaccinated during the summer but insists it is not up him or the Football Association to instruct the squad on whether they should reveal their stance on vaccines.

“There’s a thing called medical confidentiality which seems to be being totally overlooked in a lot of areas at the moment,” he said on the eve of the Andorra fixture.

“These aren’t our players. I don’t think the clubs would thank us for sharing that sort of information and frankly, it is personal to the players. I’m sure you have GDPR at your workplace, you’ll be conscious of all of that.

“Our doctor over the last year and a half has always spoken to the players about the current situation in terms of infection in the country.

“He’s always explaining the benefits of vaccination in that context. But no, we of course have had to deal with many different topics, but also we have to prepare a team to play football.

“We’re here to play football. The players are here to play football. We can’t really have much impact over the next two or three days – we certainly can’t jab everybody over the next two or three days.

“I’ll always speak to the players about anything in their lives. But we are here to win football matches first and foremost.”

So far, Fikayo Tomori, Jesse Lingard and Ollie Watkins have spoken to the press and not revealed their vaccination status, while Roma striker Tammy Abraham confirmed he has been jabbed.

Tammy Abraham has been vaccinated against Covid.
Tammy Abraham has been vaccinated against Covid (Nick Potts/PA)

Southgate has had both doses of the vaccine and supports the scheme but admits his situation differs to that of his players, whose individual scenarios may well impact on their decision not to follow suit with a fear of a public backlash if they were to reveal they had not been vaccinated.

Asked if most of his players had yet to be jabbed, Southgate replied: “I’m not sure that’s totally accurate in terms of ‘most’.

“Look, everybody knows where I stand on the subject. To move out of a pandemic, the only way was a vaccination programme and I think that was essential.

“There is then the complication that there are lots of individual circumstances around that and I understand that some people would be anxious, perhaps.

“So, when you’re in the camp of mine – over 50 – there’s less to consider really. The odds are more straightforward. It is a much more straightforward decision.

“I am a believer that that’s the right thing to do but I kind of understand there are other topics we’ve talked about where everybody would be aligned and we would all have a very clear view as a team.

“With this, it is a little bit more nuanced. Lots of people have had the virus so maybe they feel antibodies are high in their own bodies.

“Lots of people might have individual medical conditions. Some people in the country might have religious reasons.

“It is a complicated area but my belief is the route out of the pandemic is the vaccination programme. I am yet to hear anybody offer an alternative and there’s not a lot more we can say than that really.”

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