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Qatar may ban unvaccinated players at World Cup

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Qatar are reportedly pushing for mandatory Covid-19 vaccinations for all players who take part in the 2022 World Cup

The Gulf nation has already revealed that anyone attending the tournament next November will have to be doubled jabbed and has taken up the same position with players, according to The Athletic.

However, it is known that professional players’ views on taking the vaccine are mixed and there are some concerns Qatar’s stance could rob the tournament of its stars – something all parties want to avoid.

The Athletic claim a number of options are being considered, including uninoculated players having to report negative tests every three days. 

Qatar’s position on the vaccine could be a factor in some international stars’ decisions about whether to have any jabs.

A number of Premier League clubs are known to have players still resisting the Covid-19 vaccine, including Arsenal and Switzerland star Granit Xhaka.

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Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer admitted last month ‘not all of the players have been double-jabbed’, adding ‘I have encouraged them to take the vaccination but you cannot force anyone to do that.’ United goalkeeper Dean Henderson has been struggling with long Covid. 

Newcastle manager Steve Bruce has admitted that ‘a lot’ of his players have not been vaccinated – despite their goalkeeper Karl Darlow being hospitalised with the virus – and cited ‘conspiracy theories’ as a reason why so many are reluctant.

Deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van-Tam has been forthright in urging players to take up the vaccine and told them to ignore the myths around it. 

Sportsmail revealed at the weekend that Van-Tam told players he is not ‘going to mince words’ in a video designed to provide footballers with the ‘scientific facts they need’ to persuade them to get vaccinated. 

Meanwhile, Qatar have also had to have painstaking talks about the logistics around Covid ahead of the Arab Cup, which starts on November 30 and will be used as test event for next year’s World Cup.

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For that tournament, fans will need to be fully vaccinated to attend but players will not be required to follow suit.

The Premier League could find itself in a similarly uncomfortable position of insisting fans are vaccinated but allowing unvaccinated players and staff into stadiums if vaccine passports are introduced for major sporting events later in the winter. 

Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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