Professional Footballers’ Association chief executive Maheta Molango says Premier League players may have “legitimate concerns” over getting vaccinated against Covid-19 and has warned against an “over-simplistic” assessment of the situation.
As clubs continue to struggle with depleted squads due to Covid outbreaks, the Premier League confirmed on Monday that 84% of players are currently on their "vaccination journey”.
“It is not as simple as saying it is only about the vaccination, that is only one piece of the puzzle,” Molango told BBC Sport.
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"As a union, there is no doubt we understand and support the vaccination rollout.
"We have to be careful with over-simplistic assessments of situations.
Always keep in mind players are human beings.
"They are the same people that a few months ago, when I was at home and most people were at home, were told go out and play with no vaccines, that there were 'no worries, you are going to be fine'. That is the reality.
"We are trying to help the players make the right choice based on science.
They need to listen to the experts but at the same time, we have to acknowledge that certain people may have legitimate concerns.
The Premier League’s vaccination figures are as expected when you look at similar age groups across the UK, though last week the Football League said that 25% of its players do net intend to get vaccinated.
There are reports that unvaccinated players may be forced to travel and train separately from teammates as part of new regulations the Premier League is considering to reduce Covid outbreaks.
Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson has spoken out against the packed fixture schedule he faces with Liverpool, saying ‘nobody takes player welfare seriously’ amid the recent surge in Covid cases in the Premier League.
The Reds are second in the table following a 2-2 draw with Tottenham on Sunday, but six of the weekend’s other games were postponed due to a rise in positive cases.
The Liverpool captain says players are unable to perform at the highest level during a packed game schedule.
"I don't think people can appreciate how intense it is until you actually see it first hand," Henderson told BBC Sport.
"Football to us is everything and we want to be able to perform at the highest level every time we set foot on the pitch and unfortunately, in this period it is difficult to do that.
"That has been like this for a few years now and it has been difficult but then, on top of that, you chuck in Covid and it becomes even harder and even worse.
I am concerned that nobody really takes player welfare seriously.
"I think decisions get made - of course we want to play as footballers, we want to get out there and play - but I am worried about player welfare and I don't think anybody does take that seriously enough, especially in this period, when Covid is here.
"We will try to have conversations in the background and try to have some sort of influence going forward, but at the minute I don't feel the players get the respect they deserve in terms of having somebody being able to speak for them independently and having the power to say actually this isn't right for player welfare."
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