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.