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July 2021
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Why do players break lock down rules?

By Sir Hardly Anyone

It turned up on a BBC radio programme today: Benjamin Mendy broke the Covid-19 isolation regulations by inviting people from outside his household to a New Year’s Eve party.

Of course he’s not the only one to do it within the world of football.   Erik Lamela, Giovani Lo Celso and Sergio Reguilón of the Tiny Totts plus West Ham’s Manuel Lanzini were photographed with around 12 others at a Christmas party.

And indeed such activity is not limited to Premier League players.   12 players celebrating a win went to a Wetherspoons, in South Shields, sat at four separate tables as ordered, and then found that someone had phoned the police who promptly turned up and fined them all – after the food and drinks had been ordered.  One wonders what the Wetherspoons staff were doing in taking their order.

Some of the reports about footballers breaking the rules are getting a bit desperate as when Sportbible.com reported that David Luiz and Granit Xhaka were spotted together on parkland in Southgate.   Quite probably illegal, but newsworthy?   Oh yes and Alexandre Lacazette was spotted standing with a car valeter who was cleaning his car on his driveway.

Indeed some reports are of activities which may not be illegal under the regs – for if you do read the full documentation you may agree with me that it is not quite a clear cut as might be imagined.  Although 12 people at a Christmas party being photographed together really is getting a bit silly.

So why are footballers breaking the rules, and allowing themselves to be caught?

Partly it could be a result of a highly privileged lifestyle in which money flows easily, and minders and fixers sort out anything that goes wrong.  (This is the problem with fixed penalties – £200 could mean a lot to you and me, but to a Premier League footballer?   Not something that would be noticed).

And besides Dominic Cummings also has a fair amount to answer for although he did put Barnard’s Castle on the map.

But above all, it does seem to me that the government has moved into a world view in which it believes that it is enough to issue rules, and then people will obey them.  It is patently self-evident that this is not the case in England – possibly not in the UK – maybe not in Europe.  But certainly not in England.

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When I drive from the East Midlands where I live to London, something like half the cars I see are breaking the law in terms of the speed limit.  In other words, breaking the law is endemic in England.  It is what people (or at least car drivers and motorcyclists) do.

Indeed something like 180,000 people a year are injured in car accidents – and yet lots of people break the speed limits and other regulations day by day.  So why do we expect people to obey covid regs?

Given that we might expect that many people will not obey covid regulations – not least because they are written in such a complicated manner. It would make sense for the government to do something other than just lecture the population about obeying the regulations.  It’s a fairly simple bit of logic – people in this country break rules, so they are liable to break covid rules, so let’s consider what we can do about it.

One thing they could do is work with the football clubs and make sure that a) the players all understand the rules, and then b) have players from every different Premier League club advertising one particular aspect of the rule.

Another thing would be to realise that although occasionally a three word slogan (such as “Great Brexit Done”) can convince people to do something (in that case vote in a particular way) three word slogans are not always the answer (if they were all advertising would be three word slogans, and it is not).

But above all the government needs to recognise that whatever the rules, people will break them.  The aim therefore should not be to ensure that no one breaks a rule, but to reduce the number of people who do through carefully constructed advertising and logical and reasonable rules.

According to the tier four rules Lacazette should not have stood outside his house to talk to the guy cleaning his car.  But he could go to a supermarket to buy food.  The problem is, at least judging by the supermarkets near me,  going to the supermarket to buy food is likely to bring him into much greater risk of catching Covid than standing outside chatting to the guy cleaning his car.

Put another way, it is legal to be in a supermarket with hundreds of others, buying food, but not to exchange a few words with the person whose car is parked next to yours in the supermarket carpark.

Maybe sorting out the regs and delivering the messaging around the regs in a more adult manner could help us all.   And having a little more education for Erik Lamela and co perhaps.

2 comments to Why do players break lock down rules?

  • Zedsaunt

    It’s the usual slapdash nonsense. England is a country where you come out with beautiful ideals of freedom and then do your utmost to make certain none of them mean much in practice. ‘Fair play” is an example. ‘The Rules Of Football” is another example.

    About a decade ago, at the main entrance to Leeds Railway Station, on all the doors, I counted 22 – twenty-two – public notices. Each one was printed. Each one was stuck to the door. Each one was put up for you to read. You couldn’t go out, you couldn’t come in, without seeing them. Eighteen of them – 18 – warned you what you COULD NOT DO.

    Not a single one said, ”Welcome To Leeds Railway Station.’

    Instead of educating the next generation in how to behave, how to share responsibility, how to make society work, we just pass laws knowing every person will break them. Once it has been printed and put on the wall, that’s it, we’ve done our job, everything’s been done. In truth, we don’t give a fuck.

    Staying alive in a pandemic requires concentration.

  • porter

    Dominic Cummings ? unnecessary , if your going to make political points on a football subject , try to be even handed and list all the other political perpetrators.
    However this piece unfortunately is little more than a political rant unbecoming of a site that usually is worth reading for it’s insights to football related things not covered by others.