Pep Guardiola has said his Manchester City team will struggle to follow new Premier League protocols regarding goal celebrations.
Earlier this week Sky Sports News confirmed reports in The times that the Premier League and PGMOL have written to match officials and told them that they should specifically discuss with captains and coaches what is expected of them in the game.
Judges have been told to remind players of the need to maintain social distance as much as possible during games and when celebrating goals.
It comes as league officials are increasingly concerned about breaches of coronavirus protocols and lack of social distance – especially when celebrating goals – leaving football open to criticism and vulnerable to a possible change in government policy where play can be stopped.
Speaking after City’s win over Brighton on Wednesday, where Phil Foden scored the winner and celebrated with the majority of his teammates, Guardiola admitted that it is “difficult” to follow the protocols, as celebration is an “instinct”.
“We will follow what the Premier League says, but I do not know if we are capable of doing that,” said Guardiola.
“I respect the Premier League protocols. I fully understand what they are trying to do. When we are indoors, everyone respects social distance. We have to do it. But outdoors on the training ground, after being tested many times, in reality moments of joy, [hugging] is instinct and reaction. It is hard. I do not know if we will be able to do that. “
Parker: I want to remind Fulham players
Meanwhile, Fulham head coach Scott Parker has said he will remind his team of the protocols after several players celebrated their equalizer together in 1-1 draw with Tottenham.
“I feel like I probably will,” Parker said when asked if he would talk to his players about the festivities.
“I have not noticed it and I have not seen it back. At the same time I have sympathy for the players. We still play football, these players are still being judged, I am being judged, football clubs are being judged.
“At the same time, of course, I understand the situation out there and protocols in play. It’s obviously a conversation I want to have with the players.”
Arteta reiterates Guardiola’s concerns
This latest change follows new protocols laid down by the Premier League last week that included a ban on players and managers shaking hands, hugging or swapping jerseys.
The Premier League has not discussed the possibility of a break this season despite the growing number of positive cases.
Guardiola, along with Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta, had warned earlier this week that players will have a hard time controlling their emotions in order to follow the instructions to celebrate goals.
PFA chief executive Gordon Taylor last week urged players to downgrade their festivities, to adhere to a set of enhanced coronavirus protocols that emphasized the need to maintain a safe distance and avoid handshakes and shirt changes.
“I read them, the new protocols,” Guardiola said. “We have to follow them. But when a guy scores a goal, I don’t know if they can be controlled and not celebrate it.
“U.S. all [involved on match days] tested negative every other day. I do not know what is going to happen – but a guy scores a goal, the joy of celebrating it, I do not know if he will think, ‘I can not hug my buddy for two, three seconds’.
“A guy is isolated and the group has to keep going. So I do not know. We follow what people say in the club, the Premier League. We follow the rules. That’s what it is.
“Aston Villa had 10 players isolated plus manager. So I do not know.”
Arteta, speaking ahead of Arsenal’s clash with Crystal Palace on Thursday, live on Sky Sports, also said players will not be focused on removing the rules in the intensity of the matches.
“Controlling the emotions when you walk 200 km / h in a game full of things happening around you is very difficult to control,” Arteta said.
“We pray in our players, e.g. In corners, about being human-marking people and pushing people around, and then we can not attach fist-bumps to anyone or say hello to anyone.
“It’s getting a little controversial and hard to understand.”
EFL warns football that breaks rules, risks government anger
Football will come under extreme government pressure to stop if clubs “continue to reject the rules” on limiting the spread of coronavirus, warns EFL CEO Trevor Birch.
Elite sports have been allowed to continue despite the country being placed in a new national lockdown designed to slow the rate of Covid-19 infections in the UK.
However, a series of incidents on and off the field, along with an increase in positive test rates among players, mean that the professional game is under greater control from the government and the public than ever before.
“Throughout the pandemic, football has given a glimmer of hope to many millions of people affected by restrictions, but we all understand the control the game is under and we will be exposed to extreme government pressure if
we continue to spoil the rules, ”he said in a letter to the clubs.
There were high-profile cases of Violation of Covid Protocols by EFL clubs during the FA Cup weekend in the third round.
QPR admitted they should not have allowed former player Eberechi Eze to take part in their draw against Fulham, while Crawley’s exuberant celebration of their dull victory over Leeds also violated social distance rules.
“While football is allowed to continue, the actions of all participants will be clear under the microscope, whether in technical areas, dugouts or in relation to general behavior and interaction between players on the pitch and staff outside it,” Birch added.