At least 90 Premier League players tested positive for Covid-19 last week. Still, the Boxing day and its close matches every 2 or 3 days, remains maintained. A situation which enriches the debate on the holding or not of the upcoming AFCON.
Earlier in the day, during a meeting the Premier League announced that it was still maintaining the traditional Boxing Day.
“The League collectively intends to continue with the current fixture list to the extent possible.”
The majority of clubs were in favor despite the upsurge in the number of Covid cases in Great Britain. Between December 26 and January 3, each team must normally play a match every 2 or 3 days.
Some coaches like Jürgen Klopp (Liverpool), however, felt it was irresponsible to play such close matches, when the squad was shrinking due to the Covid.
Potential cancellations of matches
As of December, ten Premier League games, including 6 on Matchday 18 of the Championship over the weekend, were postponed after new positive cases emerged at more than half of the clubs.
The figures have exploded for 15 days. Between December 6 and 13, 42 new cases were identified.
This increased again last week, between 13 and 20 December, to 90. The Premier League has never been so affected. It has even twice broken the record for the number of positive cases detected within its 20 clubs since the start of the global pandemic, in March 2020.
The Premier League has also reported that 16% of players in the English League are unvaccinated. Protocol requires them to travel separately and undergo additional screening to enter stadiums.
According to government guidelines, unvaccinated players must self-isolate for 10 days if they are considered a close contact with someone who has tested positive, even if their results are negative.
These constraints reduce the number of players available in the workforce, which necessarily increases the risk of postponement of matches.
Meanwhile, the Association of European Clubs has asked FIFA to urge African football leaders to cancel their continental competition as they are not ready to release the players due to Covid-19.
As a result, the doubt still remains on the holding or not of the AFCON 2021 despite the arrival of the president of CAF Patrice Motsepe in Cameroon for preparations.