Gareth Southgate: Some unvaccinated players affected by ‘conspiracy theories’ | England
Gareth Southgate said some footballers have not been vaccinated against Covid-19 because their opinions are influenced by conspiracy theories on social media about the jab.
The England manager was keen to give a thoughtful look into the matter before his team world Cup Qualifiers against Andorra, which were given the green light after being thrown into doubt for a few hours after a fire at the Estadi Nacional on Friday afternoon.
Southgate defended his players’ reluctance to publicly support punches, even though they have been outspoken about other social issues, and suggested that one of the issues preventing further spread is that some are more susceptible to online rumours.
Vaccination rates vary across the Premier League and Tammy Abraham is the only one England player to make sure he was hit by double hits. The issue remains a sensitive topic around the England camp – Fikayo Tomori and Jesse Lingard argued this week that it was a personal choice – and Southgate, which has denied reports that most of its players remain vulnerable, has provided disturbing insight into the mentality inside the dressing rooms. .
“It’s easy for me being 50 – that the percentages for me, whatever marginal risks there were in getting a vaccine, would be outweighed by the risks of getting the virus,” Southgate said. “Most of the players came back late and had to wait longer, a lot of them already had the virus – that’s my opinion – they probably feel they already have antibodies from that.
“At their age they are more open to some of these conspiracy theories because they read social media more, and they are probably more prone to this kind of opinion. From what I can see there is a bit of confusion. There are many different threads as to why they choose to challenge or not speak publicly about that.
“I understand why there is criticism of it. Like I said all the time, I don’t see a better way to beat the epidemic than a vaccination programme. Nobody came up with anything. They came up with reasons not to get scammed but I didn’t hear them come up with a better solution or else we would all be where we were all along. The past two years. It’s a very complicated topic. A very toxic topic and maybe that’s why people are more reluctant to speak up.”
Southgate, who believes a vaccine is the only way out of the pandemic, was asked why young footballers believed conspiracy theories. “I feel young people are on a different scale in terms of accommodating older people,” he said. “They seem to be more likely to post social media posts or live their lives on social media, where perhaps these theories abound.
“We might just talk to our GP and do things this way. But look, I could be sitting here five years later and I was wrong. With respect to some of the other issues, it was very clear what was right and what was wrong. I was willing to talk about it, But can I say 100% that the vaccination program is safe? Well, I couldn’t because I’m not a chemist, I’m not a doctor, I’m not a scientist.
“I imagine we wouldn’t be in the position we are in a mass vaccination program without doing research and without being completely sure of governments and medical personnel, so I am comfortable taking that risk. But I realize that others may feel less comfortable and have some anxiety about it. That’s why It’s a little more complicated and I think that might be why they might feel less confident about speaking.”
Southgate received contemptible abuse for appearing in a pro-vaccine video for the NHS last summer. “If you get messages when you support the program that says ‘You could be on a Nuremberg-type trial in 10 years’ and people are so vicious with the comments, it makes you think twice before speaking out.
“Because what if I’m on the wrong side? Right now, I can’t be sure I’m on the right side. I’m relieved that I got vaccinated. I’m relieved because I think it was the right thing to do an NHS video. But I also realize that others might not be. Very excited to put themselves in this situation.”
Andorra’s Kieran Trippier will lead England, who top Group One. Preparations for the match came under fire at the 3,300-seat Estadi Nacional stadium. The television bridge on the side of the stadium caught fire three hours after England trained there.
Sprinklers were used to try to control the fire before the firefighters arrived and put out the flames. The photos showed black marks left on the artificial pitch and next to the bunker. “No personal damage has been reported, only material damage,” a company spokesperson said. “The match will go ahead as planned.”