Footballers must ‘change their behaviours’ to adjust to coronavirus rules both on and off the pitch, the Premier League boss has said, meaning no more hugs – whether that be with teammates, spouses or even their own children.
‘Players need to realise that they’re role models, and while they may not be killing each other, a small child could copy a celebration, pass on the virus, and someone else could die as a result, and if that were to happen, the blame would lay squarely at the feet of the players. And as far as I’m concerned, any player who chooses to celebrate a goal is a murderer,’ Richard Masters told Sky Sports.
Players are now being asked to refrain from showing affection until the end of the season, and as of today, any Premier League player seen hugging another individual will face a hefty fine. Additionally, repeat offenders and cases where hugging leads to kissing will be met with lengthy suspensions. ‘We’re not asking for much here,’ added Masters.
Julian Knight, the chair of the digital, culture, media and sport committee, welcomed the move, saying: ‘If the players thought Marcus Rashford could just stroll in here and tell us how to do our jobs, embarrassing us in front of the whole country without any repercussions, then they’re sorely mistaken. Now the players will know what it feels like to be blamed.’
The updated measures are expected to prove particularly challenging for England centre-back Harry Maguire, whose hands-on approach to man-marking could fall foul of the new guidelines. However, the new rules aren’t likely to apply to Manchester United players.
It was a day like any other for Kevin De Bruyne. He woke up, brushed his teeth, ate his breakfast, and then made his way to the Manchester City training facility situated at the club’s Eithad Campus.
However, upon arrival, Kevin was presented with something out of the ordinary. His designated parking spot was occupied – filled by an unfamiliar red Vauxhall Corsa. Now, this might not seem particularly strange had it not been that his teammates’ spaces were also taken. Hoping someone might come and lay claim to this mysterious row of vehicles, the players waited patiently inside their cars.
5, 10, 15 minutes passed, still no sign of anyone. With nowhere else for them to park, the players abandoned their cars outside and headed into the club’s training complex, hoping they might track down the owners.
Upon entering the facility, the players’ attentions were drawn to a chorus of moans and high-pitched screams coming from the direction of the first team dressing room, this ‘sent the players into shock’, according to Rodri. Fearful one of their teammates could be in danger, Kevin De Bruyne, flanked by Ederson and Aymeric Laporte, followed the sounds of the screams to the dressing room door. Using extreme caution, De Bruyne then eased the door open.
The City players were left flabbergasted.
Awaiting them was a mass of bodies, sweatier than Trevor Nelson’s scalp, tangled and intertwined, reminiscent of Harry Maguire’s man-marking during a corner kick. Stood in shock, the City players struggled to make sense of it all. Who was this seedy ensemble debasing their dressing room? Where did they all come from? And most importantly, who let them in?
Their answer was staring them right in the face. Amid this sordid sea of sexual activity stood their teammate, Benjamin Mendy, making sweet love to a pair of voluptuous Greek pornstars.
‘Benji, what the f**k?!’
That was the cry of Man City vice-captain Kevin De Bruyne, a cry which would bring the orgy to a standstill and ultimately to its climax. ‘What time is it?’, quizzed the fully-erect Frenchman. A seething De Bruyne shook his head in reply, enraged by his teammate’s actions.
The half-naked attendees hurried to gather their belongings, apologising profusely to the City squad as they departed the dressing room, before collecting their respective car keys from a bowl by the front desk.
What followed was an awkward, almost comedic logjam inside the City parking lot, as the orgy-goers, most of whom still semi-nude, attempted to manoeuvre their vehicles past the queue of sports cars and 4x4s waiting to make their way into the facility.
By then, Mendy was stood outside the training complex, apologising to anyone that would listen, all while wearing a women’s blouse. It’s believed someone else picked up his clothes by mistake.
Following a string of recent misdemeanours, this could be the final straw for the French full-back. Mendy is now expected to be suspended until the latter end of the 20/21 season, and as a result of the violation, Manchester City’s upcoming fixtures against Brighton and Crystal Palace have also been plunged into doubt.
Sheffield United’s upcoming fixtures have been postponed indefinitely following the suspension of amateur sport in the UK.
As of midnight, amateur clubs across the country will be banned from taking part in organised sport. The rest of the Premier League will remain unaffected by the new measures, with the government allowing elite competition to continue. However, despite their top flight status, Sheffield United do not currently meet that criteria, having collected just 2 points from their last 17 games.
The club is expected to appeal but the process is a lengthy one. It’s understood that each player would have to successfully perform 50 kick-ups in front of Grant Huddleston, the Minister for Sport, before any decision could be overturned.
Assuming Chris Wilder’s men fall short in their bid, and with the government unlikely to ease measures before mid-February, Blades’ fans could be waiting until their game against West Ham at the London Stadium (13/02) before seeing their team suit up again.
Spanish full-back Sergio Reguilón could be set for an extended spell on the sidelines following an incident at Tottenham’s Enfield Training Centre.
According to eyewitnesses, having been strongly condemned by Jose Mourinho and Spurs owner, Dan Levy, Reguilón went down clutching his left knee in agony and was stretchered off by club doctors.
The club issued the condemnation after the Spaniard was pictured celebrating Christmas alongside teammates Giovani Lo Celso, Erik Lamela, and their respective families, in a clear breach of Premier League Covid regulations.
The punishment was undoubtedly warranted but the Tottenham hierarchy now faces questions about the strength of their condemnation, with fans calling it ‘needlessly reckless’, ‘dangerous’, and ‘not in the Christmas spirit’.
Lo Celso and Lamela also picked up knocks following their condemnations and are both expected to miss 10 days of action while Reguilón will begin his recovery on the bench against Leeds.
Ahead of tonight’s Champion League match against Krasnodar, Chelsea will be distributing Kepa Arrizabalaga face masks to their 2000 visiting fans.
With face coverings being made mandatory inside the stadium, a club spokesperson urged fans to wear their Kepa-themed masks: ‘While the club has put in place various health and safety protocols to tackle the spread of the coronavirus, a Kepa face mask will ensure our supporters don’t catch anything.’
When asked about the decision to feature Kepa, the club responded: ‘Kepa has been exemplary throughout the pandemic, always keeping a safe social distance between himself and any shots on target.’
The troubled Spaniard is expected to make his first appearance since a niggling shoulder injury, caused by shouldering so much of the blame for the club’s poor defensive record.