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Footballers should be prioritised for coronavirus vaccine ahead of Euros, says Southgate
19 March 2021, 08:31 | Updated: 19 March 2021, 09:43
England manager Gareth Southgate has called for football players to be prioritised for the coronavirus vaccine ahead of this year's European Championships.
Describing the success of UK’s vaccination programme as “incredible”, Southgate said footballers should be in line for the jab once all vulnerable people have been vaccinated.
He cited the risks involved in travelling across Europe and the world to play matches.
"We are moving to the stage where we are asking athletes to put themselves in situations where they are more likely to catch the virus than others and I think we have a bit of a responsibility to them as well," Southgate said.
Government data up to March 17 shows 27,614,526 jabs have been given in the UK so far, including 25,735,472 first and 1,879,054 second doses.
The rollout is currently working its way through the top nine priority groups, with over-50s who have not received their first dose invited to book online this week.
All over-50s are on track to receive their first dose by mid-April, the Government has said.
The UK ready to host more Euro 2020 games
However the UK has been hit by a supply shortage that means the rollout will slow down over four weeks from the end of March, with the focus shifting to second doses once all priority groups have been vaccinated.
Southgate admitted that, because of this, his suggestion may not be possible.
But he said: “My view would have been we were close to getting to where it would have been acceptable for professional sportsmen to be on the list.
“We are asking them to keep playing, they’re having to quarantine when they come back from certain situations, they’re having to take some risk going back to families and a lot of them have caught the virus because they’ve been working.
“I was not suggesting they should have been ahead of key workers and teachers but we are getting close to the points where it could be acceptable.”
He also suggested that football “could afford to save the NHS money by buying vaccines and administering them”.
The European Championships start on June 11.