Pep Guardiola urges fans to use masks in stadiums to limit spread of coronavirus

Pep Guardiola: "There are people in the stadiums who don't use masks, and that surprises me the most. You walk in the street, you go to the big malls, to places to buy presents for the family and no one uses masks"; Man City host Leicester on Boxing Day

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola arriving before the Premier League match at the AMEX Stadium, Brighton.
Image: Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola says he is surprised fans are not wearing masks

Pep Guardiola has urged supporters to wear masks in stadiums to limit the spread of coronavirus.

Under recently-introduced Government Plan B regulations, fans now need to show proof of double vaccination or a negative Covid-19 test to attend games.

There has been speculation, however, the authorities could go further and force games back behind closed doors - as they were during Project Restart and for most of last season - amid surging case numbers in England.

Guardiola, who lost his mother to the virus last year, does not want to see that happen again but does think people could be doing more.

Asked about the prospect of games being played without fans again the Manchester City boss said: "I wouldn't love it.

"You can't imagine how different it is playing with people than without people. It doesn't compare.

"In the end we played behind closed doors so the economy of world football would survive, for the broadcasters. Thanks to that, we kept getting our salaries and could play football for the people.

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"Hopefully it won't happen again, but cases are raised all around the world. These people go to the stadiums, and can contaminate.

"There are people in the stadiums who don't use masks, and that surprises me the most. You walk in the street, you go to the big malls, to places to buy presents for the family and no one uses masks.

"Vaccinations, booster jabs, the people [can] decide - but a part of that has to be social distancing and masks. It's the best way to protect ourselves, our families and the rest of the people.

"Like this, the restaurants could still be open, and football could go on. I'm not a scientist or a doctor but I trust the doctors and scientists because they know more than I know.

"I want to trust the people who know and they say this is the safest way - take a vaccine. People don't die when they take a vaccine.

"Wearing a mask is so important, like social distancing and hand sanitisers, so let's try to do it. Otherwise, it may [come back] again and again and again."

Premier League leaders City host Leicester on Boxing Day in a 3pm kick-off.

Premier League publishes guidance over fixture postponements

The concerns of managers and captains were heard by the Premier League at special meetings on Thursday.

Managers and players raised fears about the number of games they have to play in quick succession during the Christmas holiday period because of the demands it is putting on squads which have been reduced in size as a result of Covid-19.

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Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola raised the possibility of players going on strike over welfare issues, while Tottenham head coach Antonio Conte labelled the meetings "a waste of time".

Following calls from managers for transparency over why some matches have been called off and some have not, the Premier League has since published guidance to explain its protocols for postponing fixtures.

Clubs have been told they must provide the following information when applying for a game to be postponed:

  • Details of players and staff who have Covid, their vaccination status and - if known - the source of their infections
  • Players and staff unavailable through injury and illness
  • Players on the squad list who are still available, including 'appropriately experienced' U21 players
  • Medical information to verify status of each unavailable player, which will be reviewed by the Premier League's medical advisers

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Antonio Conte believes meetings between the Premier League and managers and players were a waste of time as pressure grows on the league over fixture congestion and rising coronavirus cases

Antonio Conte believes meetings between the Premier League and managers and players were a waste of time as pressure grows on the league over fixture congestion and rising coronavirus cases.

The Premier League will then consider the following factors when deciding whether to grant the request:

  • Impact of Covid infections, injuries, illness and isolation on the squad, plus the number of first-team and 'appropriately experienced' U21 players available
  • Matches will be postponed if a club does not have at least 13 outfield players and a goalkeeper available
  • Status of any Covid outbreak at the club, including the number and source infections, and the proximity to the match
  • Club's ability to safely prepare its players
  • Medical advice over whether there is an unacceptable risk to the health and safety of players and staff by playing the match
  • Advice from UK Health Securities Agency and other public bodies
  • Other exceptional circumstances
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