Five unnamed England stars are reportedly on course to miss next year’s World Cup, amid their current refusal to get a Covid-19 vaccination.
While it’s only been a matter of months since the nation endured collective heartbreak following the Euro 2020 final defeat to Italy, attention has already begun to turn to the next major international tournament taking place next November and December in Qatar.
The Three Lions are currently well placed to qualify for that upcoming World Cup, having picked up five wins and a draw from their opening six games in qualifying, with their involvement likely to be all but confirmed should they win against Andorra and Hungary during next week’s international break.
Their passage to the competition appears to be running smoothly, although preparations for the tournament have encountered problems, with the Sun reporting that five players could well miss the World Cup due to their current vaccination stance.
World governing body FIFA are planning to ban any unvaccinated players from participating in the tournament, meaning that England’s group of stars would have to sit it out should their stance not change.
Among that group are three key members of Southgate’s squad who all played pivotal roles in the summer, thus putting their World Cup involvement into doubt.
The report has revealed a number of reasons for the players’ stance against being vaccinated, including having been influenced by anti-vaccination ‘conspiracy theorists’ that are prevalent online.
Professor Jonathan van Tam sent a direct message to footballers last month to implore them to get the jab and tried to ‘dispel the myths’ that are circulating among sections of the squad.
The situation is not likely to affect the nation’s upcoming games – including the trip to Andorra – as the unvaccinated have been handed an exemption from quarantining to allow them to continue to train and play, although the report adds that that could cause tension among the camp.
This vaccination refusal is not just a potential issue at international level, as it was revealed that only 7 Premier League clubs have more than 50 percent of their playing squad vaccinated.