'Politicians also make mistakes with Covid protocol' - Lampard thinks focus on football's rule breakers is too harsh

Frank Lampard Chelsea 2020-21
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The Blues boss has criticised those in government and the news media for their harsh portrayal of how the sport is handling the pandemic

Frank Lampard has responded to increased pressure on 'brainless' footballers to stop hugging during goal celebrations as football comes under increased scrutiny during the coronavirus pandemic.

Outside of football, the new strain of Covid-19 has led to a spike in cases and deaths, which has led to a third UK-wide lockdown.

The sport has continued to operate, albeit with hardened protocols from the authorities, to avoid the spread of the virus within football and beyond.

However, elite football is under threat of being stopped with Julian Knight, the chair of the digital, culture, media and sport committee, labelling some goal celebrations as "brainless".

There have also been examples of footballers breaking rules for New Year's Eve celebrations but Lampard believes that the discussions about the sport offer a one-sided perspective.

“My opinion as you cross the spectrum of society is that some footballers have made mistakes, which some have admitted to when they have been found out and that is wrong," Lampard told reporters.

“Members of the public have done that, some members of the public are absolutely adhering to the rules. Some politicians have also made mistakes that when they’ve been caught out they’ve admitted to, so I certainly don’t think the spotlight should just be on footballers.

"On the other side of that, I think footballers have to understand their responsibility and, now that a few mistakes have been made, you hope we see less of that. But I would certainly get my back up against people who just want to pinpoint footballers who are still going to work and doing their job.

"If they make mistakes then fine, hold their hands up, discipline them and, hopefully, footballers will not make so many mistakes going forward. They have been really tough times for everyone and it’s certainly not just footballers who have made mistakes.

"Footballers are doing everything everyone else has been asked to do as well. Some people are being asked to work from home, footballers aren't. So they're taking themselves into an environment where they're potentially putting themselves in danger and maybe their families they go home to - a pregnant wife, a grandparent, parent, brother, sister as well.

"So we have to understand that footballers are human as well and they're being asked to do their job in this moment. So I think that's one thing and if you understand football and the passion, the instinct which every fan has, every person in the street has for football if they love it, they understand it can bring emotions out in you.

"So to control the emotions is a fair ask but to dictate emotions will probably be very difficult on the pitch. I think we should see how this goes because, as it goes along, we'll see if players can control it. I hope they can, but this game, this beautiful game we all love does bring out emotions on the pitch.

"What I want to be really clear about is that players being asked to come to work and they're doing everything they can to toe the line - as is hopefully every person in the public to toe the line to get us  through this."

Chelsea understands the severity of the pandemic with their £70 million ($94m) signing Kai Havertz having suffered from the coronavirus, along with several members of first-team staff.

Meanwhile, their academy building is currently closed due to an outbreak among players and staff after coming back from a short winter break. The first-team remains unaffected due to the different teams having different bubbles as Chelsea prepare for a short trip to local rivals Fulham on Saturday.

Lampard may implement a ban on hugging in training but he thinks it is hard to do during a top-level Premier League match.

"We practice social distancing as much as we can in the training ground," he added. "On the pitch, it can be difficult because you have to train and get close to each other but every moment you possibly can and in training, the instinct shouldn’t be to grab as much, let’s hope, as it would be in-game when you’re scoring in the Premier League that wins a game or whatever.

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"So for sure it’s something I will pass on to the players and you see a lot of these group hugs now when they win a five-a-side so that will be something we’ll look at."

Chelsea have also re-opened the Copthorne Hotel at their stadium to NHS (National Health Service) workers who may struggle to get home after late shifts as pressure on London's hospitals grow.

They have also launched a weekly live stream called Coaches Corner Live for children to practice their football skills while stuck inside.

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