IN HIS football podcast last week, the former England player Gary Neville put his head above the parapet and spoke out against the pressure being put on Premier League players reluctant to have the Covid vaccine.
You might have thought his words of warning would have been picked up by the MSM, as had Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp’s contrary view. But predictably it wasn’t, since his view didn’t fit the official narrative. It also somewhat discomposed his podcast colleague Martin Tyler who seemed to feel obliged to contradict Neville’s views rather than explore them dispassionately.
You can judge for yourself – here is the section of their conversation on vaccines.
It starts with reference to Jurgen Klopp’s ‘impassioned speech about vaccination’, Tyler asking Neville if vaccination should be compulsory to play as it is America for basketball players who’ve been told ‘if you don’t have a double vaccination you don’t play’. That leads to not getting paid, Tyler remarked. ‘Is that a step too far or something we can learn from? Are you surprised at the number of players who haven’t had the double vaccination and it is relatively low compared with the rest of the country?’
Neville concurs: ‘It is low, it’s low all over the country, not just in the Premier League but in the Football League as well. It’s very low’, going on to state emphatically: ‘I don’t agree with forced vaccinations and the idea of taking wages off players who aren’t vaccinated is beyond a step too far, it’s absolutely wrong . . . I am very uncomfortable with forcing anybody to have medicine essentially . . . I am absolutely against forced vaccination. It is a liberal society.’
When Tyler quotes Klopp as saying that everyone accepts the restriction on freedom that you can’t drink and drive and, Neville staunchly reiterates his position on unvaccinated players not being paid: ‘That is not right, that’s absolutely not right; the idea that next November, December we’re going to have a World Cup where if players aren’t vaccinated, they can’t go to the tournament. I am against that, I am against that 100 per cent . . . what I am a little bit surprised at the moment is, look, all over the country in every club there is probably about a 50 per cent or less take-up from professional footballers . . . Generally most clubs are struggling to get all their players vaccinated in this country . . . maybe it’s time for the players or the PFA to come out and explain what the concerns are that the players have and why they are not taking these vaccinations.’
He mentions incidents across the globe where healthy athletes have had the vaccine followed by medical incidents. He says players don’t want to take a vaccine that hasn’t gone through the most rigorous testing: ‘They think it is a bigger risk having the vaccine than not.’
He reveals that deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van-Tam has met players, presumably to try to convince them otherwise.
Will any footballers rise to Gary Neville’s challenge to speak out for themselves on why they are refusing the vaccine? We wish they would. They would do the country a great service. Like Neville, they would do well to tell our bullying Government officials that if there’s to be forced vaccination for the World Cup in 12 months’ time, there’s going to be a lot of countries going there without players.
I leave the last word with Neville: ‘The idea of taking choice away from people I am so uncomfortable with, that’s where I am at. You have to have choice in life.’
You do indeed. Three cheers for Gary.