Premier League chief Richard Masters has urged players to “change their behaviours” in an effort to reduce the transmission of coronavirus.
The UK has entered a new lockdown but elite sport has continued, despite the growing number of positive cases among professional sportspeople in the Premier League and other tournaments like the Gallagher Premiership.
The Premier League has updated on-field protocols that the players must now follow, such as avoiding hugging one another when celebrating goals.
🗣️ “We’ve brought in additional measures to keep people safe and to reduce the chance of infection”#PL Chief Executive on the new safety protocols and completing the season: https://t.co/WQLMfO0b3K pic.twitter.com/w1EvmhJ5a5
— Premier League (@premierleague) January 15, 2021
While some players may find it hard to adjust their behaviour when it comes to instinctual actions such as celebrating, Masters insisted that players must act cautiously in these troubling times.
“All we’re asking is that players adjust to the situation. I think they understand that we’re in a fortunate position – we’re able to play, we’re able to carry on, we’re able to ply our trade while millions of others aren’t.
“Obviously the rules are in place to keep people safe. You’ve got to follow the rules and also set a good example.
“So we’re asking players not to group hug, we’re asking players to change their behaviours around those social moments at the beginning and end of games, and I’m sure they’ll adjust accordingly.
“I think that all sport is played in the moment, it’s played with emotion, and I think if we set ourselves a target of perfection we’ll fall short, but I think it’s okay to ask people to adjust,” Masters told Sky Sports.
‘They’ll get the hang of it’
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola admitted that players may find it difficult to follow the guidelines around celebrating, but others, such as Chelsea manager Frank Lampard, have committed to ending close-contact celebrations.
“It’s the same message – and we’ve been talking to the club captains, talking to the managers yesterday and today, and they’re all behind it.
“I think we had Frank Lampard coming out this morning saying that he was going to actually practice goal celebrations, and I think if every club does that then they’ll get the hang of it,” Masters commented.