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Arsenal Women boss Joe Montemurro issues warning over coronavirus breaches following Dubai trip

Arsenal, Man City and Man Utd players travelled to Dubai for break; several players tested positive for coronavirus in last two weeks; only one of six WSL games went ahead last weekend; Arsenal return to action against Reading on Sunday

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Arsenal Women manager Joe Montemurro says there was 'disappointment' at the club over three players' decision to travel to Dubai during the WSL winter break

Arsenal Women manager Joe Montemurro says the club will not "tolerate" coronavirus protocol breaches after confirming three players have apologised to their team-mates for visiting Dubai during the Women's Super League winter break.

Three Arsenal players, along with some of their Manchester United and Manchester City counterparts, travelled to the United Arab Emirates on a "business trip".

The trip was followed by a spate of WSL postponements following several positive coronavirus tests, with Chelsea's 5-0 win over Reading on Sunday the only fixture to take place across the weekend of January 9/10.

The Arsenal players travelled over Christmas despite London being under Tier 4 restrictions, which meant travel abroad was prohibited except for business reasons.

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Image: Arsenal's match with Aston Villa last weekend was postponed because of the coronavirus outbreak

Montemurro confirmed that his players travelled for "official" purposes and were therefore not breaking guidelines, but admitted their decision to travel had caused "disappointment" at the club.

"We had some official scenarios of players going to Dubai and I think in the madness of that last week where things locked down and everything went the way it did, yes there's obviously disappointment at the situation and the way it panned out," Montemurro said on Thursday.

"From my perspective it's about the moral compass and the consequences of these situations and the players have apologised for their actions. We have dealt with it from an Arsenal perspective internally.

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"For me the really important thing going back to the morality of making these decisions when you're faced with them is that it doesn't happen again, and for me it's all about actions now. It's all about making sure that these players understand under these situations and under these circumstances that they are role models, they are people that are in the public eye and we won't be able to tolerate these sorts of decisions, not just from a sporting perspective but from a global morality perspective and that's really important."

The players who travelled to Dubai were criticised by current and former WSL players, with the lack of a public apology from Arsenal and Manchester City appearing to have compounded the issue.

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Former Scotland international Suzanne Winters called on Arsenal, Manchester City and Manchester United to come out and apologise for allowing some players to visit Dubai during the recent winter break

Montemurro refused to confirm if Arsenal had issued any punishments to the players who travelled, saying the club had "taken it up internally".

Asked if his players should issue a public apology, Montemurro said: "I will have to leave that to the greater Arsenal. I will have to leave that to Arsenal to make that decision from a personal, fan perspective.

"They understand their actions. We've dealt with it in a way we believe is right.

"We've had a good discussion internally, we've understood situations, we've dealt with the situation at hand, we've dealt with the severity of certain things, and in all aspects as I've said before, there's no right or wrong. You can look at it from all different aspects.

"Are some things, plain and simple, wrong? Yes they are. Are some things sort of a little bit grey? Yes they are.

"We can't change what's happened in hindsight, all we can do is make sure there's a real understanding of what's happened and a real understanding, going forward, that these things don't happen again."

When asked if the players involved had put the health of Jen Beattie at risk - it emerged last month that the Arsenal defender had been receiving treatment for breast cancer - Montemurro said: "In the moment, in the situation, they probably didn't think of those situations, they probably didn't think of that.

"But I can guarantee you going forward from now that they have understood the effect of their actions, the repercussions of what could have happened.

"We can't change the past. Are we disappointed it happened? Absolutely. Are we going to make sure these situations are dealt with properly? Absolutely. We (are) going to make sure that they learn from their actions and that these actions don't happen again."

Arsenal, who are third in the table after 10 games, return to WSL action away to Reading on Sunday.

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