Football is not being targeted says senior Scottish medic

JEFF PACHOUD
·2-min read
Boli Bolingoli (L) joined Celtic in July 2019

Scottish football has to assume it's responsibilities in observing the coronavirus protocols and is not being singled out for punishment Professor Jason Leitch, Scotland's national clinical director, told the BBC on Saturday.

Scottish football has been in the headlines for all the wrong reasons over the past two weeks. 

Eight Aberdeen players went to a bar a fortnight ago and Celtic defender Boli Bolingoli did not self-isolate nor tell his club after a trip to Spain and played in last Sunday's 1-1 draw with Kilmarnock.

As a result a furious Scotland First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said Aberdeen and Celtic's matches this week should not take place and added if there were any further breaches she might wield a red card and terminate the season.

Scotland Sports Minister Joe Fitzpatrick subsequently held a meeting with the Scottish FA and the Scottish Professional Football League.

As a result on Thursday Scottish football's Joint Response Group (JRG) ordered a halt to training.

The return to training for clubs outside the Premiership has been put on hold until August 24 at the earliest.

"Football has been allowed to get back to work before other things," Professor Leitch said.

"Offices are not back, call centres are not back, football was allowed to come back on the basis they would follow the guidance religiously and it appears that some people within football haven't done that.

"So therefore there's a price to pay in a pause to make sure the footballers understand that that's the nature of what they are doing. I am not targeting football.

"I am trying to help elite sport come back safely."

Ian Maxwell, chief executive of the SFA, said he could understand if the Scottish Government went the whole way and closed the season down if there are further breaches of the strict protocols.

"Absolutely believe that to be the case," Maxwell told the BBC.

"I don't think we have a leg to stand on in terms of putting up an argument after the things that have happened.

"That's why it was so important we did instigate this pause to make sure everybody knows what their obligations are."

Maxwell said the hiatus will allow them to absorb the next Scottish Government guidelines due next week.  

"We are very aware we have stopped all football again," he said.

"It's not decisions we want to make, but circumstances have dictated that's the road we have to go down.

"It also lets us see what the updated government guidance will be, which is due around the 20th."

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