‘We have positive cases among vaccinated and unvaccinated players': Portsmouth chief on battle to persuade footballers to be jabbed against Covid

Andy Cullen has revealed vaccinated along with unvaccinated players have been struck down by Pompey’s coronavirus outbreak.

Wednesday, 22nd December 2021, 4:00 pm
Updated Wednesday, 22nd December 2021, 4:44 pm

And the Blues’ chief executive believes 25 per cent of Danny Cowley’s squad have still to receive both jabs, putting the club roughly in line with Football League findings.

Covid has forced the cancellation of Pompey’s last three matches – AFC Wimbledon, Exeter and Oxford United.

However, the Blues remain hopeful they can fulfil the December 29 trip to Plymouth in League One.

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Regardless, football is under scrutiny over the vaccination levels of players amid a backdrop of spiralling Covid cases.

Yet Cullen, who received his booster on Friday last week, is adamant the Blues cannot force their players to follow suit.

He told The News: ‘We can’t force anything, it’s a matter of personal choice. The PFA are encouraging their players to be vaccinated, we are encouraging our players to be vaccinated.

Pompey CEO Andrew Cullen

‘We have some positive cases among players who have received the vaccination. We have positive cases among players who haven’t been vaccinated.

‘The Football League reported last week that 25 per cent of players have not been vaccinated and, at Pompey, we are broadly in line with those figures.

‘Yet I think the majority – if not all – of our staff are vaccinated.

‘We’re doing all we possibly can to encourage those unvaccinated players to get a vaccination, we feel that message is important.

‘Our understanding is if you are vaccinated you reduce your risk of being infected – which allows you to train and take things on.

‘The PFA will take a stance that it’s individual choice, but are doing all they can to encourage as many of their members to get vaccinated.

‘We want a situation where people can come to work and know that those around them are safe and secure.

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‘I think people have the right to expect that – but it has to be an individual choice and we can’t enforce it as an employer.

‘It’s a free country, people have that right, all we can do is our best to recommend that people take it.’

As part of the PFA’s drive to encourage player vaccination, two different informative posters have been put up in dressing rooms at Pompey’s training ground.

Players have also been shown an educational video presentation featuring the government’s deputy chief medical officer Professor Jonathan Van-Tam.

Cullen added: ‘The PFA have been right on it.

‘The players have all received a presentation from Professor Van-Tam in which he tries to debunk some of the myths that people are reading on social media which has created some uncertainty.

‘It was a very good video, full of humility in terms of how he understands why players may not choose not to be vaccinated, but then goes through those reasons and explains using scientific evidence.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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