Vaccinated Leeds forward Rodrigo says individual players ‘have to be free to choose’ whether they get jabbed against Covid-19 or not.
Football’s governing bodies have urged all players to be fully vaccinated and last month the Premier League is understood to have wrote to all its clubs offering incentives to ensure their playing and coaching staff had both jabs.
It was revealed last week by Sportsmail that only seven of the 20 clubs have squads where 50 per cent or more of the players are fully vaccinated, with almost two-thirds of top-flight players yet to have both doses and many refusing altogether.
Premier League striker Rodrigo has revealed he is fully vaccinated against coronavirus
Tammy Abraham (left) confirmed he has been fully jabbed, while Fikayo Tomori (right) refused to comment, saying it’s a ‘personal matter’
Republic of Ireland’s Callum Robinson was the first high-profile player to confirm he had refused the jab – despite contracting Covid twice
‘I think it’s a difficult topic,’ Rodrigo said. ‘It’s true people have to be free to choose if they are vaccinated or not.
‘In my opinion I think the vaccination is very important. I took the two doses of the vaccine, my family, my friends.
‘It’s really important to be vaccinated against Covid, it helps the world to keep moving, but that’s just my opinion.’
Health Secretary Sajid Javid recently expressed his disappointment at reports that at least five members of England’s squad have refused to be vaccinated.
Rodrigo said: ‘I think people have to do what they think is correct, but in my opinion it’s very important to be vaccinated.’
Leeds, Wolves, Southampton and Brentford have vaccinated more than 90 per cent of their staff.
Mr Javid told Times Radio: ‘I would just appeal to these people, whether they are footballers, whoever it is… that the vaccines are working.
‘Help protect yourself and protect those around you. They’ve made a conscious choice (not to be vaccinated). It is disappointing, of course it is.
‘They are role models in society. People, especially young people, I think will look up to them and they should recognize that and the difference that can make in terms of encouraging others.’
Earlier today, former Chelsea player Pat Nevin laid into Premier League stars refusing the Covid vaccine for ‘not doing their bit for society’ after being allowed to play through lockdown.
The ex-Blues and Scotland star said he was ‘infuriated’ and ‘upset’ to hear about the percentage of players who have not been jabbed, when ‘everyone’s bent over to get football back on’.
HIGH-PROFILE PLAYERS WHO TESTED POSITIVE
Mikel Arteta (Arsenal manager)
Arsenal confirmed their boss had become the first manager to catch the virus last March, which prompted the Premier League to suspend the season.
Jamaal Lascelles & Allan Saint-Maximin (Newcastle United)
Lascelles and Saint-Maximin suffered from long Covid, ruling both players out of action for more than a month.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Chelsea)
The midfielder tested positive shortly after the Blues returned from Belfast after the Super Cup against Villarreal.
Ryan Bertrand (Leicester City)
The left back revealed he was still struggling in training a month after having the virus.
Karl Darlow (Newcastle United)
The goalkeeper spent three days on a hospital drip and was ‘severely worried’ after getting the virus before his first vaccine. Darlow is now urging footballers to have the jab.
Sergio Aguero (Manchester City)
The Argentina striker, now at Barcelona, was sidelined for several weeks dealing with the effects of Covid last season.
Granit Xhaka (Arsenal)
The Swiss midfielder caused controversy after it emerged he had declined the vaccine before contracting Covid.
England manager Gareth Southgate, who answered a call from NHS England to urge young people to get jabbed earlier in the summer, has pleaded with England stars to take the Covid jabs for the benefit of society.
Most players have refused to comment on their vaccination status, although England striker Tammy Abraham confirmed he has had the jab on Wednesday. Three Lions defender Fikayo Tomori said it was a ‘private matter’.
Republic of Ireland international Callum Robinson admitted he chose not to be vaccinated against Covid-19 despite being hit by the virus twice, becoming the first high-profile footballer to admit so.
The 26-year-old West Brom striker, who plays in the Championship and had already missed games for his country as a close contact, first tested positive in November last year and then again in August, meaning he had to sit out last month’s World Cup qualifiers.
Chelsea player Christian Pulisic revealed he was fully vaccinated when he tested positive for coronavirus in August.
The most assertive plea for players to get vaccinated came last weekend from Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp.
He said: ‘I don’t take the vaccination only to protect me. I take the vaccination to protect all the people around me.’
Klopp said 99 per cent of the Liverpool squad had been jabbed as he compared the situation to ‘drink-driving’.
He added: ‘We were all probably in a situation where we had a beer or two and thought ‘I can drive’. But this law is not there for protecting me, it is there for protecting all the other people because I am (drunk) and want to drive a car. And we accept that as a law.
‘We all know alcohol is bad for our body but we still drink it. With the vaccination we assume it is not good for our body. Most specialists tell us the vaccination is the solution for the situation in this moment.’
For the first time on Sunday, FIFA encouraged footballers to get vaccinated, leading to fears that unprotected players would be banned from playing at the World Cup next year.
Days later, FIFA revealed they are currently in talks with Qatari authorities about scrapping the mandatory vaccination requirements for the showpiece tournament in 2022.