Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has said refusing to take a COVID-19 vaccine is similar to drink-driving, as it endangers other people.
Speaking about vaccination, the 54-year-old German said he didn’t understand how the coronavirus jab could be viewed by anti-vaxxers as a “limitation on freedom” – and revealed 99% of his Liverpool players are vaccinated.
In his news conference ahead of Sunday’s match against Manchester City, he said: “If I say I am vaccinated, other people say: ‘How can you tell me I should be vaccinated?’ It is a little bit like drink-driving.
“We all probably were in a situation where we had a beer or two and thought we still could drive, but [because of] the law, we are not allowed to drive, so we don’t drive.
“But this law is not there for protecting me when I drink two beers and want to drive, it’s for protecting all the other people because I’m drunk, and we accept that as a law.”
Jab uptake among footballers has become a more pressing issue after media reports suggested that only seven of the 20 Premier League clubs have fully vaccinated more than 50% of their players.
Meanwhile, an unconfirmed report in The Sun said as many as five of Gareth Southgate’s England team are not vaccinated against coronavirus.
The government has said that Premier League players will be allowed to travel to red-list nations to represent their countries in this month’s World Cup qualifiers – but only if they are fully vaccinated.
Concerns are rising about what a lack of jabs will mean for international games, with incentives to encourage jab uptake under consideration.
In a letter, seen by Sky Sports News, Premier League officials have written to clubs offering a special “reward” to those who have the highest number of vaccinated players, although the exact incentive has yet to be decided.
The letter states: “According to the data we have, only seven clubs’ squads are more than 50 per cent fully vaccinated, so we have a way to go.
“We are considering if and how best we can ‘reward’ those squads/players who are most COVID-compliant and who have opted to be vaccinated.”
Klopp said he did not have to convince anyone on his team to take up the jab, with almost all of his Liverpool squad having been vaccinated.
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Speaking about how the vaccination is viewed by some with mistrust and as limiting freedom, he said: “I don’t understand why that is a limitation of freedom because, if it is, then not being allowed to drink and drive is a limitation of freedom as well.”
He added that he chose to be vaccinated to protect others.
“I got the vaccination because I was concerned about myself but even more so about everybody around me,” he said.
“If I get [COVID-19] and I suffer from it: my fault. If I get it and spread it to someone else: my fault and not their fault.”
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