Omicron stronger than the Premier League? The traditional day of the English football championship of December 26, Boxing Day, very popular across the Channel, is endangered by the Covid-19 pandemic. Thursday, December 23, the cancellation of two games was announced: Liverpool-Leeds and Wolverhampton-Watford will not take place. Not that there are health restrictions – the stadiums have the right to be full – but too many players are sick and have to isolate themselves.
The new Omicron variant is spreading at high speed in the UK. As of Thursday, nearly 120,000 people have tested positive, an absolute record since the start of the health crisis. Worried, club and Premier League representatives met on Monday, considering canceling all Boxing Day matches. But tradition and big money will have been stronger, and everything must go as planned.
Except that the reality in the locker room is complicated. Rafael Benitez, Everton’s coach, can not believe his match against Burnley is maintained, although he had asked for the cancellation: five of his players are positive, to which are added six injuries. “We follow all the rules, he annoys. We do the antigenic tests, the PCRs, we put on the masks, we use three different changing rooms to limit the time that the players spend together… “
Debate on the absence of a winter break
It was not enough. Under these conditions, he wonders how he will be able to find eleven players available to field a competitive team on Sunday. “We have players who may have received a blow, but we still have to push [à aller jouer], or others who are not at their best “, he regrets.
The pandemic is reviving an old debate on the absence of a winter break in English football. While there has not been a match on Christmas day itself since the 1950s, the pace during this period is hellish in the Premier League. In addition to Boxing Day matches, a championship day is organized between December 28 and 29, then a third on December 1is January, another major festive event on the supporters’ calendar.
Manchester City coach Pep Guardiola does not hide his irritation: “It’s going to take a strike by the players or something will happen, otherwise nothing will change. UEFA, FIFA, television, the Premier League… [Pour eux], the business is more important than the health of the players. “ Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson also expresses his discomfort, after his team have played five games in two weeks: “No one takes the health of players seriously. “
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In England, Omicron variant threatens to derail Premier League football