Kyle Walker: Footballer says he is being 'harassed' following lockdown breaches

8 May 2020, 12:06

Manchester City footballer Kyle Walker claimed he is being harassed
Manchester City footballer Kyle Walker claimed he is being harassed. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

Premier League footballer Kyle Walker has claimed he and his family are being "harassed" after he admitted to breaching coronavirus lockdown measures.

The Manchester City and England defender issued a statement last month - following media reports that he had hosted a party at his home - where we apologised for breaking Covid-19 restrictions.

However, the Premier League fullback has rubbished the claims and insisted he and his family are victims of targeted abuse.

He said the ongoing controversy is affecting both his health and that of his loved ones.

In a statement posted on his official Twitter feed, Walker wrote: "I feel as though I have stayed silent for long enough.

"In light of the most recent article published about me and my family, I feel as though I have no choice but to address things publicly.

"I have recently gone through one of the toughest periods of my life, which I take full responsibility for.

"However, I now feel as though I am being harassed.

"This is no longer solely affecting me, but affecting the health of my family and my young children too."

The footballer admitted to breaching coronavirus lockdown rules again by visiting Sheffield to see his sister and his parents. Such actions could lead to him facing a fine or a police caution.

"In relation to the events on Wednesday, I travelled to Sheffield to give my sister a birthday card and present, but also to speak to one of the few people I believe I can trust in my life," he said.

"She hugged me to remind me that she cares and that I am loved. What am I meant to do - push her away?

"I then travelled to my parents' house to pick up some home-cooked meals. Again, it's been an extremely tough couple of months for them."

Walker then went on to criticise the media for invading the privacy of his family, adding: "It's been an extremely tough couple of months for them: everything I've gone through in my life they have gone through with me.

"What have my parent and sister done to deserve their privacy being invaded by photographers following me to their homes?"

"I constantly feel as though I'm being followed."

Kyle Walker asked when is enough, enough?
Kyle Walker asked when is enough, enough? Picture: PA

The Man City defender is not the first footballer to be criticised for failing to adhere to the lockdown measures.

Aston Villa's Jack Grealish was forced to apologise in March, while Everton strongly condemned Moise Kean for hosting a party last month.

But Walker insisted the response to his actions have been disproportionate, raising mental health concerns and saying his family have been "torn apart" by the continuing scrutiny.

Walker added: "I don't even feel safe in the confines of my own home - why should they have to feel like that too? Who deserves that?

"I am in a privileged position as a role model and a professional athlete, and can assure you from my upbringing I do not take it for granted.

"But at what stage do my feelings get taken into consideration?

Aston Villa captain was also forced to apologise for breaking lockdown rules in March
Aston Villa captain was also forced to apologise for breaking lockdown rules in March. Picture: PA

"My family has been torn apart, this has been dragged through the press, and I ask, when is enough enough?

"At a time when the focus is understandably on Covid19, at what point does mental health get taken into consideration, an illness which affects every sufferer differently?

"I am a human being, with feelings or pain and upset just like everybody else. Being in the public eye as a professional athlete does not make you immune to this.

"It is sad, but I feel as though my life is being scrutinised without any context. I understand if people are upset or angry with me, but it was important for people to have a better understanding of my life."

The government's advice is to remain at home and to only leave your house for a few specific tasks such as shopping for essential goods, taking an hour of daily exercise or to go to work if you cannot do so from home.

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