FAI vows to ‘respect’ and ‘accept’ Republic players’ decisions on Covid-19 jabs

The Football Association of Ireland has insisted it must “respect” and “accept” the choice of players not to be vaccinated against Covid-19 despite the disruption the virus has caused.

By Damian Spellman, PA
Thursday, 7th October 2021, 3:50 pm

A day after former Sheffield United forward Callum Robinson revealed he had opted not to be inoculated against coronavirus despite twice testing positive, the FAI issued a statement confirming it had encouraged the take-up of the vaccine, but could go no further.

It said: “The Football Association of Ireland can confirm that all players and staff are tested for Covid-19 before reporting for international duty with Republic of Ireland teams and are tested repeatedly in camp in line with FAI and UEFA protocols.

“We have encouraged all our players at all levels of the game to be vaccinated, but we respect and must accept the right of all individuals to make a personal choice on Covid-19 vaccination.

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Callum Robinson of Republic of Ireland admitted he has yet to be vaccinated against coronavirus (photo by Oisin Keniry/Getty Images).

“The association will continue to exercise the highest standards for the safety of all our stakeholders. Our Covid-19 testing protocols for all players and staff on international duty strictly follow UEFA protocols and are compliant with all Irish Government guidelines.

“The FAI reconfirms our support for all Government, UEFA and FIFA protocols during the Covid-19 pandemic. We thank all our stakeholders for their ongoing exemplary compliance with Government guidelines over the last 19 months.”

Robinson’s admission, and manager Stephen Kenny’s revelation that several members of the current senior squad have not been double-jabbed, came days after Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp questioned the degree of reluctance among Premier League players to have the injections.

Ireland have been hit repeatedly by positive tests and close contact absences over the last 12 months, and under-21s boss Jim Crawford will be unable to call upon seven UK and Germany-based players for his side’s European Championship qualifier in Montenegro next week because of its red-list status and the implications for those men on their return.

Sheffield United trio Enda Stevens, John Egan and Conor Hourihane have all been included in Kenny’s latest squad for the World Cup qualifier against Azerbaijan and friendly against Qatar.

Their vaccination status is not known.