Foot­ballers must set good ex­am­ple to rest of so­ci­ety

Play­ers need to be on alert if they want their sport to be al­lowed to con­tinue as be­fore, writes Prof Carl Heneghan

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport - Prof Carl Heneghan is an epi­demi­ol­o­gist at the Univer­sity of Ox­ford’s Cen­tre for Ev­i­dence-Based Medicine

We must re­mem­ber that the likes of Paul Pogba are hu­man be­ings like any­body else, and peo­ple are crav­ing so­cial­i­sa­tion. It does not sur­prise me that some play­ers will get Covid-19 now, given the fact that there are about 4,000 in­fec­tions a day in the UK.

Clearly, teams will need to take a more vig­i­lant ap­proach when the sea­son gets go­ing again, which will be dif­fi­cult for play­ers, but that is the pro­fes­sion­al­ism that needs to come through. A key is­sue for some

of the play­ers is what has been go­ing on abroad, where there is no test and trac­ing or so­cial dis­tanc­ing in bars.

We have seen with a num­ber of pic­tures, in­clud­ing the Usain Bolt birthday party, where peo­ple are not nec­es­sar­ily main­tain­ing their so­cial dis­tance or be­ing ob­vi­ously vig­i­lant.

We are not say­ing you have to stand 20me­tres away, but we are ask­ing you not to do things like hug or touch each other.

In terms of per­cep­tion, foot­ballers have had dif­fer­ent priv­i­leges in re­sum­ing full-con­tact ac­tiv­i­ties com­pared to the rest of the pop­u­la­tion. As we go into the win­ter, it is in­cred­i­bly im­por­tant that the sports that want to keep open get coro­n­avirus back un­der con­trol, as our pri­or­i­ties have to be keep­ing busi­nesses and – es­pe­cially – schools open.

We are see­ing struc­tural changes in so­ci­ety, and we are see­ing huge changes in how we are work­ing and what we con­sider im­por­tant.

I think there is now a sit­u­a­tion where you want to avoid peo­ple be­com­ing dis­fran­chised and disen­chanted with what any­one with a public pro­file is do­ing when oth­ers are mak­ing sac­ri­fices.

There are many peo­ple who will not have hugged their grand­mother for five or six months be­cause of the risk. And I think that is the bit where we all have to be mind­ful – foot­ballers in­cluded.

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