Roy Hodgson warns strict Covid-19 clampdown will not stop goal celebrations

Roy Hodgson fears it will be impossible to stop Premier League stars from breaching a strict new clampdown on goal celebrations.

Premier League bosses sent out a strong warning to all 20 clubs that they must stop hugging after goals with referees reinforcing the message to captains before every game.

But that was immediately ignored during Manchester United ’s win at Burnley and also Everton ’s victory at Wolves with mass celebrations raising alarm bells about potential coronavirus rules.

Crystal Palace boss Hodgson insists he is on board with the Premier League’s new crackdown – but says the natural instinct to celebrate a moment of pure joy is difficult to stop.

Hodgson said: “You can say there is no excuse for celebrating the goal but it is one thing to agree with the principal and another thing to try to stop it happening and I don’t know what the referees can do and what we as managers and coaches can do with the protocols are given.

“It’s difficult to push all those emotions aside when something happens and put on your Covid head and ask: ‘how far apart are you?’

“To be quite frank, I don’t think I’ve seen a goal that I can remember where players haven’t celebrated. So I don’t know what the answer is.

“I don’t want to make football separate, that’s a dangerous thing to do, but the fact is the general public should remember all these players playing in games have all been tested three times, they are all coronavirus negative, that goes for opposition players as well.

“I’m not 100 per cent sure that cases would have gone up that much because players have celebrated a goal in a way they shouldn’t celebrate. I’m not sure that’s the case.”

Goal celebrations is a major issue because it has become a focal point with Health Secretary Matt Hancock reinforcing the message in the wake of Tuesday night’s games.

Hancock said: “I know that the Premier League really think hard about this. It’s important that it is carried out in a way that is respectful of the rules.

"Now of course they have special arrangements to ensure that the players are safe and they have a testing regime, but I do think that it's important that everybody respects, not just the letter but the spirit of the rules because it's actually the spirit of the rules that's important, which is don't pass on the disease, act as if you've got it and then you won't pass it on to others."

Premier League bosses stress that the latest protocol demands were sent out on Tuesday, referees have only just started reinforcing them and it may take time to get the message across.

But what really annoys them is pre-planned celebrations – like a handshake routine or elaborate dance – rather than spontaneous hugs.

It has led to worries that football could be stopped altogether amid the growing infection and death rate but Hodgson believes the Premier League is at least keeping people entertained.

Hodgson added: “I think that was the reason why football was sanctioned to carry on in the first lockdown because people realised that in terms of mental health, the general life satisfaction, we’ve got to do as much as we possibly can to give them a boost where a boost is possible.

”But I also understand where there might come a time where the pendulum swings in the other direction and when that happens I’m pretty sure we will be mature enough to understand that.

"But I don’t think we’re at that point yet.”

Meanwhile, Hodgson confirmed that Palace are to fine Eberechi Eze after the ex-QPR forward went to Loftus Road to watch his old club’s FA Cup tie with Fulham on Saturday without FA permission.

Hodgson said Eze had been “naive and foolish” but said he would not drop him.

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