Gareth Southgate says some footballers are not vaccinated against Covid-1 because they are influenced by conspiracy theories on social media.
The England manager presented a video after Euro 2020 calling for people to be vaccinated and this led to online abuse.
Vaccination has been rare among professional footballers, with Southgate admitting he is not sure how many of his current England squad have received both doses.
“I think in terms of age group and age range (of his players) – I don’t have all the data and statistics – I understand that young people have different levels of attraction towards older people,” he said.
“They seem to be more sensitive to their way of life in social media posts or on social media, where a lot of theories might be a lot. We might talk to our GP and work that way.
“But look, who knows, I could have sat here for five years and got it wrong. With some other things it’s become very clear what is right and what is wrong. I was willing to talk about it, but I could say 100 percent that Is the vaccination program safe? Well, I couldn’t because I’m not a chemist and I’m not a doctor and I’m not a scientist.
“I would imagine that we would not be in the position we are in the mass immunization program without research and the government and the medical people would not be fully convinced, so I feel comfortable taking that risk.”
Although footballers – especially those in and around the England team – have raised awareness and fought against racism, discrimination and other issues, the vaccination program is largely private.
Southgate does not blame them and points to an example of the abuse he did to support the NHS vaccination drive because some things could be stopped.
“I admit that others may feel less comfortable and have some anxiety,” he added. “That’s why it’s a bit complicated and I guess maybe they might feel less confident about talking.
“If you get messages while supporting the program that says ‘You could be in front of a Nuremberg type trial in 10 years’ and people are pretty naughty with comments, it makes you think twice about talking.
“Because what if you’re on the wrong side? At the moment I can’t be sure I’m on the right side. I’m comfortable that I’ve been vaccinated.
“I’m comfortable that I think making a video for the NHS was the right thing to do.
“They are very clear with racism. They know what they have done and gained experience as a team.
“At their age they are more open to some theory of this conspiracy because they are reading more on social media, they are probably more at risk for this kind of approach. There is some confusion in what I see.”
Southgate further suggested that medical privacy is the basis for its players not to publicly share their covid vaccination status.
The Three Lions are preparing for the World Cup qualifiers against Andorra and Hungary during the Seventh International Meeting after the coronavirus scene changed.
The camp comes as football’s re-selection of vaccination rates and Qatar’s World Cup organizers plan to ban unvaccinated players.
The players have given little indication of their vaccination status in media activities since joining the squad at St George’s Park, and Southgate insists it is not up to him or the football association to instruct the squad on whether they should disclose their position on the vaccine.
“There’s a thing called medical privacy that seems to be completely ignored in many cases at the moment,” he said on the eve of the Andorra fixture.
“These are not our players. I don’t think clubs will thank us for sharing this kind of information and to be honest it’s the players’ personal. I’m sure you have GDPR in your workplace, you have to be aware of all that.
“For the last year and a half our doctors have always talked to the players about the current situation in the country in terms of infection.
“He is always explaining the benefits of vaccination in that context. But no, of course we have to work on different things, but we also have to prepare a team to play football.
“We’re here to play football. The players are here to play football. We can’t really make much of an impact in the next two or three days – we certainly can’t catch everyone in the next two or three days.
“I will always talk to the players about anything in their lives. But we are here to win football matches.
“Look, everyone knows where I stand on this. The only way out of the epidemic was the immunization program and I think it was essential.
“Then there’s the complexity that there are a lot of personal situations around it and I understand that some people will probably be concerned.”