Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has revealed that some Manchester United players are “not sure” about whether to be vaccinated against Covid-19, though he plans to hold further talks with his squad on the subject.
From 1 October, the UK government is pushing for all attendees at sports events of more than 20,000 people to show proof of having received two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine – a requirement which would include the staff and players of those clubs involved.
The mandatory vaccination element has caused concern within the game, due to the potential for players refusing on medical or religious grounds.
The Professional Footballers’ Association – the players’ union – is in support of vaccination but has backed its members’ individual right to choose on whether or not to be vaccinated themselves.
When asked about the vaccine policy at United while at a training camp in St Andrews, Solskjaer revealed that some players within his first team squad are yet to make a decision despite presentations from the club.
“We’ve informed them and some of them are already fully vaccinated, some are not sure,” Solskjaer said. “But we’re going to have a bigger session with them now because I think it’s important that everyone knows what it’s about.”
United are one of several Premier League clubs to have had their pre-season disrupted by Covid, with last Saturday’s scheduled friendly against Preston North End cancelled after a suspected outbreak within Solskjaer’s first team group.
The nine suspected cases, identified after a round of lateral flow testing, were later found to be false positives and all those affected returned to training immediately. United and Preston have resolved to rearrange the friendly for a future date.
“That I think was a testing mistake, because all nine tested positive and then the next day when we did a proper PCR test they were negative, so if that happened the day before the first league game that would be a problem,” Solskjaer said.
“That’s not our fault what happened but it’s cost us preparation time, it’s cost us a couple of days away from the training ground. So, when you say the summer has been perfect, it’s not been perfect because the world is not perfect, it’s not an ideal world. We live in a world where the rates are still high.
“Footballers have been privileged because when the world has been closed we’ve been able to play football, now the rest of it has opened but we have to be really careful because if they spend too long in a place then they might catch something so we’ve got to be really careful. But it’s a sacrifice we’ve got to make to play football.
“As I said we are privileged but it’s a difficult situation because their life is not normal.
“I think it’s been easier for us because we’ve been able to come into work, train together, play games and yeah we’ve had to live in a bubble but other people have had to stay inside and not be able to go outside and see anyone.
“We’ve been privileged but at the moment our day is different to anyone else’s because signing autographs for the kids, taking pictures, yeah we want to do it but we can’t. That’s hard for us.
“For the Leeds game [United’s opening Premier League fixture on 14 August], Old Trafford will be full, fans will be outside, we want to engage with them but we can’t really because you think if I catch something here it’s a four game ban. Literally. So it’s such a difficult one.”