September 8 – Two of England’s most exciting young players have been sent home in disgrace from international duty for breaking Covid-19 rules as indiscipline and irresponsibility not for the first time made footballing headlines across the country.
Manchester City’s Phil Foden and Manchester United’s Mason Greenwood reportedly met two women in a separate part of the England team hotel where the side were staying for last weekend’s Nations League fixture against Iceland when both youngsters made their senior international debuts .
Their breach of both English and local Icelandic regulations not only cost them their squad places tonight against Denmark but also a fine from the Icelandic authorities, prompting an angry response from England’s normally mild mannered manager Gareth Southgate .
“It’s a very serious situation and we have treated it that way and have acted as quickly as we have been able to,” Southgate told the media as England prepared for tonight’s game in Denmark.
“We have dealt with it appropriately. I recognise their age (Foden 20, Greenwood 18) but the whole world is dealing with this pandemic. Given the procedures that we have to follow now, they’ll have to travel back to England separately.”
“Nothing happened in the areas we occupy in the team hotel. We had to decide very quickly that they couldn’t have any interaction with the rest of the team.”
In a social media post, Foden said he would “learn a valuable lesson from this error in judgement.”
“I made a poor decision and my behaviour didn’t meet the standards expected of me,” he added. “I apologise to Gareth Southgate, to my England team-mates, to the staff, supporters and also to my club and my family.”
The incident, which came hot on the heels of central defender Harry Maguire being withdrawn from the England squad following his much-publicised involvement in a brawl whilst on holiday on the Greek island of Mykonos, has proved hugely embarrassing for the English FA.
An apology has been issued to their Icelandic hosts whose chief epidemiologist Thorolfur Gudnason told a press briefing that it was “a serious violation of the quarantine rules”.
In a separate explanatory statement, the FA said that “whilst in Iceland, both Phil Foden and Mason Greenwood spent time outside of our private team area, which was a breach of our Covid-19 rules.
“While they did not leave the team hotel, it was an unacceptable breach of our protocol. They have both apologised for their serious lack of judgement.”
“We have spoken to the Football Association of Iceland to offer our apologies for this incident and to ensure them that we are taking the appropriate steps,” the FA added. “We have also assured the Danish Football Union that all other players and staff members have been isolated within our group throughout this period.”
Manchester United said it was “disappointed” by the conduct of Greenwood while Foden’s behaviour was branded “totally inappropriate” by Manchester City.
“His behaviour not only directly contravenes strict guidelines related to COVID-19, but also falls well below the standard expected of a Manchester City player and England international,” City said in a statement. “The club supports the FA regarding this incident, and officials from the club are now in touch in relation to Phil’s enforced early return to the UK.”
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