Europe

‘Ignorant!’ Football fans snap back against new advice to steer clear of stadiums

Chris Whitty asks adults to ‘please’ get booster jab

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England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty, 55, and NHS England’s medical director of primary care Dr Nikki Kanani, 41, told Brits to “prioritise” social events which “really matter to them” after the UK recorded the highest number of daily COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began. Speaking alongside Boris Johnson, 57, at a Downing Street press conference, Dr Kanani suggested supporters should even try to stay away from stadiums.

She said: “My advice would be, if you’re going to go to a stadium at the weekend, make it one where you can get your vaccine or help out to give a vaccine, rather than going to watch a match.”

Colchester, Huddersfield, Middlesbrough and Oxford United are among the clubs who listed their stadiums as vaccination sites last month.

Professor Whitty went on to claim: “I think what most people are doing – and I think this seems very sensible – is prioritising the social interactions that mean a lot to them and, to prioritise those ones, de-prioritising ones that mean much less to them.”

He added: “I really think people should be prioritising those things and only those things that really matter to them.

“Because otherwise the risk of someone getting infected at something that doesn’t really matter to them and then not being able to do the things that do matter to them obviously go up.

“I don’t think you need to be a doctor to think that. I think that’s what most people are very sensibly calculating and that seems to me a sensible approach, personally.

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“The point I’m making is don’t mix with people you don’t have to for either work or for your family things that really matter to you would be my general advice to people in this kind of situation.

“But people have to make their own choices.”

Fans responded to the Downing Street announcement on social media.

Brentford supporter Joe Wilson posted: “This is such an ignorant statement.

“Going to football could [be] the only thing that supports someone’s mental health, nobody knows everyones reasons.”

Football podcaster @HLTCO, who has amassed over 90,000 followers on Twitter, said: “It looks increasingly likely that football is going to be paused or cancelled again.”

A second user claimed: “Oddly enough watching football is a social event that really does matter to me but thanks for the tip lads.”

“Boris and his medical advisers can do one,” a third responded.

But other social media users also voiced their concerns about whether fans would be willing to follow the advice.

One warned: “You think they will listen?”

@Lynndob3 said: “Oh sod off!”

Liverpool FC fan Bayley Milligan also wrote: “They took it away from me two years ago, I’m not missing out on going to Anfield again.”

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“We ain’t gonna be told what to do,” another insisted.

However, some supporters did also see the funny side.

@FulhamThomas_ appeared to make a quip at the expense of the Prime Minister and his staff inside Number 10.

Posting a snap of fans of the Craven Cottage club tucking into an unconventional matchday hamper, he said: “Ready to break out the cheese and win again, lads?”

Allegra Stratton, 41, resigned from her Downing Street post after a video showing her joking about a festive party being a cheese and wine “business meeting” was leaked to ITV.

Despite much criticism on social media, a smaller contingent of football fans appeared to support the move.

Shortly after Brighton lost to Wolverhampton Wanderers at the Amex Stadium, one fan of the south coast club said: “Sounds good to me.”

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