Chelsea boss Frank Lampard has leapt to the defence of footballers, insisting they are doing ‘everything they can to toe the line’ as scrutiny mounts over social distancing and goal celebrations during another surge of coronavirus.
The Premier League, captains and managers are set for urgent meetings amid fears that the government may have to step in. It comes after players were told to avoid hugging, high-fives and handshakes, only for a number of goals to be followed by group hugs.
Lampard insists players are acting on instinct, rather than consciously flouting the protocols and he believes trying to police emotion by punishing players will be difficult.
Frank Lampard wouldn’t give a definitive answer on whether he will ban his stars celebrating
‘What I want to be really clear about is that players are being asked to come to work and they’re doing everything they can to toe the line – as is hopefully every person in the public to get us through this,’ he said.
‘We need to our best as we should have done all along. The protocols are in place and they’ve been hardened recently and I understand why because of the surge of Covid in the public, which football remains part of.
‘There are meetings going on, there are areas in our workplace where compliance isn’t easy but social distancing is top of the list. All the basics are top of the list but when you’re actively playing football on the pitch and there’s a lot of instinct involved then it’s not always as easy to draw a clear line on pitch and in training.
‘We’ll try and do the best we’re told to minimise the threat or the danger that we know this virus holds.’
Premier League has set up urgent new restrictions which will inform players to remain apart. Pictured: Chelsea players mob Olivier Giroud after a goal scored in late December
Lampard added: ‘Footballers are doing everything everyone else has been asked to do as well. Some people are being asked to work from home, footballers aren’t.
‘So they’re taking themselves into an environment where they’re potentially putting themselves in danger and maybe their families they go home to – a pregnant wife, a grandparent, parent, brother, sister as well.
‘So we have to understand that footballers are human as well and they’re being asked to do their job in this moment.
‘That’s one thing and if you understand football and the passion, the instinct which every fan has, every person in the street has for football if they love it, they understand it can bring emotions out in you. So to control the emotions is a fair ask but to dictate emotions will probably be very difficult on pitch.
‘I think we should see how this goes because as it goes along, we’ll see if players can control it – I hope they can, but this game, this beautiful game we all love does bring out emotions on the pitch.’
Lampard has warned his players about following the latest protocols but, speaking ahead of their clash with Fulham this weekend, he said footballers deserve to be cut some slack.
New Premier League protocols have been issued, informing players to social distance whenever possible including goal celebrations, in the dressing room and during warm-ups
‘Football has and always will be a game of instinct and if we want to take the instinct out of the game, I think it’s not that simple. Players are good lads, they don’t want to do the wrong thing – they’re being asked to do their job through this very tough time and they’re doing it.
‘That’s the way it is and I understand that, but when they’re on the pitch and they score a goal, we’ll try and adapt slightly – as well as we can.
‘Ideally, in a perfect world, we’ll all walk back to the halfway line and start again but with football, maybe it won’t quite be the case and I don’t think you can hold players hugely to account unless there is a clear flouting of those rules but that’s certainly not an easy line to draw in game, in football.’
Lampard also confirmed that his side are looking fit and healthy ahead of the west London derby this weekend, though will be without the suspended N’Golo Kante.
The Blues are in desperate need of turning recent form around, after winning just one game in their last five and slipping down to ninth in the table as a result.
Victory on Saturday could see Chelsea jump back up to seventh, depending on results around them. Fulham meanwhile can break free from the relegation zone if they collect all three points.
Former Crystal Palace Simon Jordan has blasted players who celebrate by hugging each other in a furious rant and claimed he would not be standing for it
Just this week former Crystal Palace chairman Simon Jordan tore into footballers for hugging while celebrating in an extraordinary rant on air with TalkSport, as he claimed ‘clubs don’t have the balls’ to enforce Covid rules.
‘The players will not do as they’re told and do not think they have to, and find reasons why they shouldn’t and the managers have zero authority,’ he told talkSport. ‘In fact, the managers condone it.
‘If this were me and this were my group of players, I can assure you unequivocally, I would walk into that dressing room as owner of that football club and say to those players, with all the best will in the world:
“I’m not asking you, this is not a request, It’s not a guideline – I’m telling you: cut this out. I don’t care what wonderful little routine you want to practise on the training ground for a socially distanced goal celebration, do as you’re being asked or we’re going to have a problem.
‘”You are massively respected, massively rewarded, I value you highly but you will do as you’re bloody well told.”‘
PREMIER LEAGUE COVID-19 TEST RESULTS FOR 2020-21 SEASON
Round 1: Aug 31-Sep 6 – 1,605 tested, with three testing positive.
Round 2: Sep 7-13 – 2,131 tested, with four testing positive.
Round 3: Sep 14-20- 1,574 tested, with three testing positive.
Round 4: Sep 21-27 – 1,595 tested, with 10 testing positive.
Round 5: Sep 28-Oct 4 – 1,587 tested, with nine testing positive.
Round 6: Oct 5-11 – 1,128 tested, with five testing positive.
Round 7: Oct 12-18 – 1,575 tested, with eight testing positive.
Round 8: Oct 19-25 – 1,609 tested, with two testing positive.
Round 9: Oct 26-Nov 1 – 1,446 tested, with four testing positive.
Round 10: Nov 2-8 – 1,646 tested, with four testing positive.
Round 11: Nov 9-15 – 1,207 tested, with 16 testing positive.
Round 12: Nov 16-22 – 1,530 tested, with eight testing positive.
Round 13: Nov 23-29 – 1,381 tested, with 10 testing positive.
Round 14: Nov 30-Dec 6 – 1,483 tested, with 14 testing positive.
Round 15: Dec 7-13 – 1,549 tested, with six testing positive.
Round 16: Dec 14-20 – 1,569 tested, with seven testing positive
Round 17: Dec 21-27 – 1,479 tested, with 18 testing positive
Round 18: Dec 28-Jan 3 – 2,295 tested, with 40 testing positive