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    Benfica game stopped after Belenenses forced to field nine players including two goalkeepers due to outbreak

    BENFICA’S Portuguese League game with Covid-ravaged Belenenses ended in a farcical abandonment with only 17 fit players on the pitch.Belenenses started the game with only NINE men after 17 of their squad were struck down with the virus.
    Benfica’s clash with Belenenses descended into a farceCredit: Reuters
    The game was called off when Joao Monteiro went down claiming to be injured with his team 7-0 behindCredit: AFP
    But although club president Rui Pedro Soares refused to postpone the game, he was in tears at half-time as Benfica led 7-0.
    It sparked Manchester City star Bernardo Silva, who came through the Benfica academy, to tweet: “What is this? Am I the only one who doesn’t understand why the game hasn’t been postponed?”
    Only seven Belenenses players started the second half – the minimum required – before keeper Joao Monteiro – playing as an outfield player – booted the ball out and sat down, claiming he was injured.
    At that point ref Manuel Mota abandoned the match.
    The Belenenses players released a joint statement which read: “Today, football lost its heart.”
    Belenenses midfielder Cafu Phete recently returned from international duty in South Africa, sparking fears the infections were related to the new Omicron Covid-19 variant.
    Europe is on alert over the new mutant strain – and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced new crackdown measures on Saturday.
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    Mask-wearing will again be compulsory in shops and buses, trains and taxis in England.
    Overseas travel and self-isolation rules have been tightened after the first two cases of the super-strain were detected in Britain.
    Johnson also urged people to get booster jabs, saying: “It’s more vital than ever.”
    Omicron — discovered only days ago in southern Africa — has been declared the worst variant yet by one expert, while there are fears it might reduce vaccine protection over time.
    The first reported cases in Europe of the new variant were found in Belgium earlier this week. More

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    Novak Djokovic at risk of being banned from Australian Open as anti-vaxxer world No.1 warned ‘get jabbed or else’

    NOVAK DJOKOVIC is at risk of being banned from the Australian Open as a result of his anti-vaxxer status.The Serbian is openly opposed to getting vaccinated but has been warned getting jabbed will give him ‘the best opportunity to play’.
    Novak Djokovic’s anti-vax status means he could be banned from playing in the Australian OpenCredit: Getty
    Players were forced to quarantine ahead of this year’s tournament in Melbourne but have been relatively free to travel elsewhere in the world since.
    And Victoria’s sports minister Martin Pakula has warned tennis stars they face being blocked from playing in January’s grand slam if they haven’t had a jab.
    He said: “If I was an ATP or WTA player, I’d be getting vaccinated.
    “That will give them the best opportunity to play in the Australian Open with the more minimal restrictions that might be in place for those people.
    “Whether or not unvaccinated people are allowed in (to Australia) at all, I don’t know the answer to that yet.
    “That’s going to be the subject, I suspect, of discussion at national cabinet and among the federal cabinet.

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    “As for the rules that might apply around the Australian Open, specifically, we’re in discussions with Tennis Australia and the department of health about that.”
    Victoria’s government has introduced a vaccine requirement for authorised workers – including sport stars.
    Tennis Australia is yet to reveal plans and restrictions for the 2022 Open.
    But Djokovic has previously stated his opposition to being forced to get vaccinated.
    In April 2020, the world No 1 said: “I’m opposed to vaccination, and I wouldn’t want to be forced by someone to take a vaccine in order to be able to travel.”
    Djokovic is tied on 20 grand slams with Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.

    And while it remains unclear how the Aussie authorities will deal with overseas players, Djokovic risks not being able to break the record and get to 21.
    The Serb would likely be hot favourite if he is able to play.
    Ahead of August’s US Open approximately 50 per cent of ATP and WTA tour players had been fully vaccinated.

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    Watch Andy Murray hit underarm ACE serve against Carlos Alcaraz Garfia, 18, at Indian Wells.. but fans question tactic More

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    Up to QUARTER of EFL players have NO intention of getting Covid vaccine with fears season could be disrupted by outbreak

    A QUARTER of players in the Football League are reportedly snubbing Covid-19 injections, despite the Government advising them not to do so.The news comes as the latest figures show the percentages of double-jabbed EFL footballers has risen from roughly 18 per cent to 49 per cent. 
    This month it has been reported that roughly 75 per cent of EFL players have been vaccinatedCredit: Rex
    However, the number of those who have been inoculated or intend to get injections has increased by JUST five per cent over the past month, according to the Mail on Sunday. 
    And this information comes in the same month as SunSport exclusively revealing at least five England players are refusing to get vaccinated. 
    It is thought the resistance of the unnamed Three Lions aces has thrown the national team’s World Cup qualification plans into disarray. 
    The Mail on Sunday says a source has informed them that ‘approximately 75 per cent’ of EFL players this month are fully vaccinated, have had one jab or intend to be vaccinated.
    It is thought some players are refusing to get injected due to their young age, fitness levels and the belief they are less likely to get the virus. 
    It is also reported that fears relating to stories of individuals experiencing heart inflammations after being vaccinated are influencing some players’ decisions. 

    This is despite there being limited medical evidence to back up this argument. 
    The latest statistics have come to light despite Football League chiefs ramping up efforts to smash conspiracies and myths concerning vaccine safety. 
    It has even been speculated some players believe Christian Eriksen’s cardiac arrest at Euro 2020 was Covid jab-related despite there being no scientific proof of this.
    The EFL has been working on teaching players about the pros of coronavirus jabs for individuals and wider society. 
    There’s no doubt the vaccination programme is our best route out of this problemGareth Southgate
    Their efforts include educational leaflets and posters being circulated with the aim of them being shown at club grounds and stadiums. 
    It is thought league officials are also collaborating with the National Health Service to boost the number of mobile vaccination centre visits to clubs. 
    The Mail on Sunday’s source added: “Vaccinations will preserve the integrity of our competitions and we’re continuing to educate players and staff.”
    The Goverment’s chief medical officer Professor Jonathan Van Tam recorded a video with EFL and Prem chiefs in a bid to discredit conspiracy theories. 
    Professor Van Tam has featured in a Government video circulated to professional players in a bid to debunk Covid jab conspiracy theoriesCredit: PA
    It is claimed the footage has been circulated within footballers’ WhatsApp groups. 
    And it is hoped see players getting Covid vaccines will encourage more individuals in the wider population, particularly young people, to get jabbed. 
    Last week just 55 per cent of 16 to 18-year-olds were reported to have had at least a single dose of the vaccine. 
    This is despite jabs being provided for this age group since August. 
    Gareth Southgate revealed he ‘received abuse’ following his involvement in a Covid-19 vaccination campaignCredit: Getty
    In July England boss Gareth Southgate front a vaccination campaign. 
    In a video message, Southgate said:  “There’s no doubt the vaccination programme is our best route out of this problem.”
    The Three Lions chief, who was keen to lend the camp his support, later revealed: “Of all the things I’ve received abuse for over the summer — of which there’s been several — that’s the one I’ve received the most abuse over.”

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    England’s World Cup hopes thrown into disarray after it emerges at least five players are refusing to be vaccinated More

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    Premier League anti-vax stars ­likened to drink-drivers as they’re urged to get jabbed

    PREMIER League anti-vax stars have been ­likened to drink-drivers as they were urged to get jabbed.The top-flight footballers were told by Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi to help protect the public after concerns about their slow vaccine take-up.
    Premier League footballers were told by Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi to help protect the public after concerns about their slow vaccine take-upCredit: PA
    Dressing rooms have been hit by disinformation, with at least five of the England squad refusing to have the jab.
    And now ministers want the stubborn sportsmen to take note of Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp, who sent out a stern warning to those who refuse to get protection from the virus.
    Former vaccines minister Mr Zahawi said: “I urge all footballers to listen to Jurgen Klopp. He says we all have a duty to protect one another.
    “He compared it to being drunk behind the wheel because of the harm to others. 
    “So get yourself protected. Protect your community, protect people that might come into contact with you.”
    Health Secretary Sajid Javid said of those refusing the jab: “It is disappointing. They are role models in society.”

    Fans may have to show Premier League Covid passport to gain entry into stadiums this season More

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    Tyson Fury delayed second Covid jab despite twice testing positive to prevent feeling ‘weak’ for Deontay Wilder fight

    TYSON FURY delayed his second coronavirus vaccine to prevent feeling ‘weak’ for his Deontay Wilder fight.That is despite testing positive for Covid-19 twice.
    Tyson Fury delayed his second Covid-19 jab in case it made him feel weak before facing Deontay WilderCredit: Getty
    Fury, 33, had to rearrange the trilogy bout from the summer after a Covid outbreak within his camp.
    That included the WBC heavyweight king catching the virus for a second time.
    But rather than taking up the option to get fully protected as soon as possible, he is waiting until after Saturday night’s showdown to get his second jab.
    Speaking to the Daily Mail, Fury revealed the vaccine postponement was ‘because I don’t want to get in the ring feeling weak or anything’.
    Fury is taking plenty of precautions in his camp.
    There are just five people living in the big house he is staying in ahead of the fight with a further three staying together nearby.

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    Fury is also undertaking regular lateral flow tests.
    He said: “I have to do it myself because my nose has been broken so often in fights that no one else can manoeuvre the stick in there.
    “We also keep the bubble secure by having the gym under lock and key with nobody else allowed in while we’re there.
    “I’ve actually had Covid not once but twice.”
    Fury may be the main man in the camp with the whole focus on getting him ready for fight night to defend his WBC belt against former champ Wilder.
    But that does not mean he has shirked his responsibilities around the place – even if it does not quite feel like home.
    His wife Paris and their six children – including baby Athena who was in intensive care straight after birth – are back in Morecambe.
    Asked if he takes the bins out, the 6ft 9ins giant added: “Hey! I’m a father of six so of course I do.”
    He added: “This house is not a home at the moment. It’s a base for my work.
    How Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder stack up ahead of the trilogy fight
    “Home is where the family are and they’re not here.
    “When you’re told your child is dead it’s trauma.
    “Thanks to those great nurses and doctors who saved her we’ve moved on now. We always like to look forward, not back.”
    The trilogy fight was put back after Fury tested positive for coronavirusCredit: Getty
    Eddie Hearn says Tyson Fury ‘doesn’t look ready’ for Deontay Wilder trilogy fight but will still ‘win comfortably’ More

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    England’s World Cup hopes thrown into disarray after it emerges at least five players are refusing to be vaccinated

    ENGLAND’S World Cup hopes have been thrown into disarray after it emerged that at least five players are refusing to be vaccinated.Three rebels are senior members of the Three Lions squad who starred at the Euros this summer.
    England’s World Cup hopes in Qatar have been thrown into disarray after it emerged that at least five players are refusing to be vaccinatedCredit: Handout – Getty
    The players’ refusal to have the jab will throw Gareth Southgate’s plans into chaos as organisers of next year’s Qatar World Cup plan to ban all unvaccinated playersCredit: Reuters
    England can all but seal qualification with wins against lowly Andorra and Hungary this month.
    But organisers of next year’s Qatar World Cup plan to ban all unvaccinated players.
    The rebels have given a string of “nonsense” reasons for not having the vaccine, a source revealed.
    One footballer claimed he is too “young and fit” to be affected by the virus — despite evidence it can damage the health of younger people, who can also spread it.
    Another refused after buying into bizarre “conspiracy theories” that the jab is a tool for governments to spy on people.
    The others are said to have been pressured against having it by their anti-vaxxer Wags.
    At least five of manager Gareth Southgate’s squad are unjabbed — and the revolt could derail his preparations for next year’s World Cup.

    The players are also on a collision course with organisers of the Qatar finals, who plan to ban all unvaccinated players.
    Three of the five rebels are senior players with a string of honours who had starring roles at the Euros this summer.
    They are due to fly to Andorra next week as part of the England “Covid bubble” ahead of their next qualifying match.
    The trip to the Pyrenees will coincide with the easing of travel restrictions for the fully vaccinated.
    But in a move likely to spark fury, the unjabbed five will be given special exemption that will allow them to train and play through quarantine.
    Insiders fear it could cause a rift in the England camp — after Southgate fronted a vaccination campaign in July.
    In a video message to the nation he said: “There’s no doubt the vaccination programme is our best route out of this problem.”
    Southgate said he felt lending his support was “responsible” but later revealed: “Of all the things I’ve received abuse for over the summer — of which there’s been several — that’s the one I’ve received the most abuse over.”
    He and club bosses are said to be battling misinformation.
    A source said: “Dressing rooms and Whatsapp groups are awash with anti-vax conspiracy theories. Many senior players have been duped by online arguments and myths against the vaccine.
     “And they’re refusing to change course. If Qatar press ahead with plans to demand Covid vaccine passports from fans and players, it’s going to come to a head.”
    Deputy Chief Medical Officer Jonathan Van Tam has been drafted in to address the jab benefits and dispel the myths with a special video message distributed via an app to all players.
    But one club doctor said: “We’ve got senior players, intelligent men, coming out with all sorts of nonsense. One told me he didn’t need the vaccine because he could boost his immunity by taking vitamins.
    “Some of the stuff they’re reading — and believing — on the internet is incredible. Players are saying it will make them infertile, that it’s part of a plot involving Bill Gates, that the pandemic is just propaganda.
    “The real problem is they’re also polluting the minds of younger players.”
     Sports minister Nigel Huddleston said: “It’s disappointing to hear there may be some footballers unwilling to get vaccinated, perhaps due to misinformation online.”
    An FA spokesman said: “This is a private matter for individuals and their respective clubs as employers. Our preparations for the forthcoming internationals continue as normal.”
    Players refusing jabs are unlikely to be able to take part in the finalsCredit: PA:Press Association
    The Covid jab rebels have stunned staff with their reasons for not having the vaccine – One said he is too “young and fit” to be affected by the virusCredit: PA
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    Premier League to ‘reward’ clubs who have highest number of Covid vaccinated players amid fears of outbreaks

    PREMIER LEAGUE officials are ready to dish out rewards in a bid to get more players vaccinated against Covid.Reports say up to 70 top flight players have not been double-jabbed and there are fears an outbreak may cut the season short.
    At least two clubs are said to have no more than six players jabbedCredit: PA
    Chelsea’s N’Golo Kante is the latest player to test positive and isolation will keep him out of the Blues’ Champions League clash with Juventus.
    The Daily Mail reports a note has been sent to clubs to push them to vaccinate more players amid slow uptake at a number of training grounds.
    The note stated: “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.”
    Only between 30 and 35 per cent of Prem stars are reported to have been double-jabbed.

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    This is significantly lower than the UK population, with around 82 per cent of over 16s having both jabs.
    It’s thought at least two squads have no more than six players vaccinated, while others have fewer than half.
    Wolves, Brentford and Leeds have reportedly enjoyed the most success, with between 89 and 100 per cent of their players getting jabbed.
    The note continued: “It is increasingly clear that full vaccination will be the key criteria for Government and health authorities, in terms of international travel and potential Covid certification at large scale events.”
    The document also confirmed training and matchday guidelines will remain in place until the end of the year but could be relaxed based on individual clubs’ vaccination rates.
    Tuchel admits he’s powerless to get Chelsea stars double jabbed as new Covid crisis hits Blues with Kante quarantined More

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    Tuchel admits he’s powerless to get Chelsea stars double jabbed as new Covid crisis hits Blues with Kante quarantined

    THOMAS TUCHEL is powerless to persuade his players to get double jabbed after Covid struck at Chelsea yet again.Midfielder N’Golo Kante is the latest player to test positive for the virus and must now be quarantined for ten days.
    Thomas Tuchel can’t force players to have the Covid-19 vaccineCredit: Getty
    It is not known whether Kante, 30, has been vaccinated.
    The news on the eve of Chelsea’s tough Champions League match at Juventus is a grim reminder that the pandemic rages on.
    It also brings into focus the ongoing debate about whether footballers should be jabbed because of the risks when playing.
    Boss Tuchel said: “It would be easy to say yes now and get applause from a lot of people. But at the same time do I have the right to say that? I’m not so sure.
    “I can make the decision for myself and everyone else has to reflect and take the risk or not. It’s a serious question.
    “Vaccination seems to be a proper protection. I am vaccinated. I took the decision for myself. But I don’t really see myself in a position to speak out on proper recommendations. That would go too far.

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    “I’m a football coach, not a 100% expert on this. I would leave it to them.
    “Everyone is an adult, living in a free country and society, and people can take their own choices.
    “We take our actions and are responsible for it. We don’t want to lose players, but we are not angry with N’Golo.
    “I am concerned about him like I am my injured players who took kicks in the game.
    “I know the situation is far from over and all the time somebody gets it here from us and our crew, that makes it all the more aware it’s not over.”
    Kai Havertz struggled after contracting Covid-19 last yearCredit: Getty
    Callum Hudson-Odoi was one of the first players in England to contract coronavirus during the first wave back in the spring of 2020.
    His team-mate Kai Havertz later revealed the struggle to regain strength after contracting the virus at the end of last year.
    Several other Chelsea players tested positive after summer holidays in 2020 and are all fine now.
    Kante is a special case because he opted to stay away from Chelsea’s training ground during the first outbreak.
    There are added concerns for his health in light of him passing out in front of fellow players in March 2018.
    In football terms, the loss of Kante for Wednesday’s clash at Juventus and for Saturday’s home game with Southampton is a blow to the club.
    Boss Tuchel is already missing key midfielder Mason Mount and defender Reece James is also crocked.
    Juventus sold star player Cristiano Ronaldo during the summer
    Defending European champions Chelsea sit second in Group H behind Juventus on goal difference.
    The Italian two-time European champs are finding life tough following the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo. They sit tenth in Serie A.
    Tuchel said: “They lost a big champion, a big point of reference and a big personality. But you can be a big team and a strong team without Cristiano.
    “They have a lot of talent, a very experienced coach, they’re a proud club who are used to winning, a mentality shaped by the demand for winning.
    “This is my first time to play Juventus. Yes, they’ve had some troubles in the start with their results in Serie A, but they were very convincing in the Champions League.
    “Sometimes, if players are missing it’s also the same for us and the guys who come in want to show they are reliable.
    “We play Juventus at Juventus. It demands respect for the quality and tradition of this club.”
    Tuchel says Chelsea star N’Golo Kante has tested positive for Covid-19 causing him to miss Juventus clash More