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Lampard admits it will be difficult to ‘dictate emotions’ as he hopes ‘spotlight’ is moved off footballers

Frank Lampard admits it will be difficult to ‘dictate’ emotions within football and says he hopes the current ‘spotlight’ is moved away from footballers following criticism of the sport’s adherence to Covid-19 guidelines.

Football has come under increasing criticism from politicians in recent days prompting the Premier League, FA and EFL to a joint statement on Thursday calling for clubs and players to adhere to new Covid guidelines both on and off the pitch.

The statement comes following criticism of celebrations during the FA Cup’s third round last weekend, with several sides warning that “handshakes, high fives and hugs must be avoided” if the sport is to continue safely.

It comes despite players and staff being tested twice weekly, though there is an increasing pressure on elite sport given the worsening situation of the pandemic in the United Kingdom.

Chelsea boss Lampard has now given his view on the scrutiny and insists footballers are just one part of society to have made mistakes during the pandemic, before outlining his belief that it will be difficult to ‘dictate emotion’ during high-stakes encounters on the pitch.

“My opinion as you cross the spectrum of society is that some footballers have made mistakes, which some have admitted to when they have been found out and that is wrong,” Lampard told reporters at his pre-match press conference on Thursday.

“Members of the public have done that, some members of the public are absolutely adhering to the rules. Some politicians have also made mistakes that when they’ve been caught out they’ve admitted to, so I certainly don’t think the spotlight should just be on footballers.

“On the other side of that, I think footballers have to understand their responsibility and, now that a few mistakes have been made, you hope we see less of that. But I would certainly get my back up against people who just want to pinpoint footballers who are still going to work and doing their job.

“If they make mistakes then fine, hold their hands up, discipline them and, hopefully, footballers will not make so many mistakes going forward. They have been really tough times for everyone and it’s certainly not just footballers who have made mistakes.

“Footballers are doing everything everyone else has been asked to do as well. Some people are being asked to work from home, footballers aren’t. So they’re taking themselves into an environment where they’re potentially putting themselves in danger and maybe their families they go home to – a pregnant wife, a grandparent, parent, brother, sister as well.

“So we have to understand that footballers are human as well and they’re being asked to do their job in this moment. So I think that’s one thing and if you understand football and the passion, the instinct which every fan has, every person in the street has for football if they love it, they understand it can bring emotions out in you.

“So to control the emotions is a fair ask but to dictate emotions will probably be very difficult on the pitch. I think we should see how this goes because, as it goes along, we’ll see if players can control it. I hope they can, but this game, this beautiful game we all love does bring out emotions on the pitch.

“What I want to be really clear about is that players being asked to come to work and they’re doing everything they can to toe the line – as is hopefully every person in the public to toe the line to get us through this.”

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