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David Moyes urges people not to ‘pick on’ footballers over Covid-19 breaches

Sheffield United v West Ham United – Premier League – Bramall Lane
(Image credit: Cath Ivill)

West Ham boss David Moyes has urged people not to “pick on” footballers over breaches of coronavirus protocols with case numbers spiralling in Britain.

Hammers midfielder Manuel Lanzini has apologised and made a donation to an east London foodbank after breaching the rules over Christmas and while Moyes acknowledged the Argentina international’s actions were a “mistake”, he insisted the vast majority of players are abiding by the game’s strict regulations.

Asked if sterner action needed to be taken against offenders to ensure compliance amid a series of incidents involving high-profile footballers, Moyes said: “Well, if you are going to take tough measures on players, then you might as well take them on the Government people as well who have broken the rules because it’s certainly not just football players who have done it.

West Ham’s Manuel Lanzini has apologised after breaching coronavirus protocols

West Ham’s Manuel Lanzini has apologised after breaching coronavirus protocols (Alex Pantling/PA)

“We’ve just got to be careful that everybody isn’t picking on football players.

“A lot of people are throwing stones in glass houses at the moment regarding this. We all know what the protocols are, we all know we have to be ever-vigilant and make sure we’re doing the right things.

“But we can all make mistakes as well. Manuel Lanzini understood he made a mistake, he has apologised for it, he’s made a donation to the foodbanks for what he’s done and I think it was a really good gesture.”

Moyes’ comments came a day after Newcastle head coach Steve Bruce questioned the morality of football continuing amid the ongoing pandemic.

The Scot, however, believes sport is playing an important role and saluted the players for their contribution.

He said: “We have to remember that the players are the ones taking risks every week. They continue playing, they have to go back to their families, so we have to say that the players are the ones out there who are taking a lot of risks.”

Sebastien Haller (left) and Robert Snodgrass have left West Ham

Sebastien Haller (left) and Robert Snodgrass have left West Ham (Steven Paston/PA)

Moyes was speaking ahead of Monday night’s FA Cup third-round trip to National League Stockport, a game they will play without striker Sebastien Haller and midfielder Robert Snodgrass following their moves to Ajax and West Brom respectively this week, with the Ivory Coast international’s £20.2million departure unexpected.

The Hammers boss said: “The Seb Haller situation was simply that we got an offer. We didn’t expect it, we weren’t planning to lose Seb in this window.

“I think it’s a really good move for him to go to Ajax. It was something that maybe if we didn’t take this offer now, we wouldn’t have got it at a later stage, so we just felt it was the right thing to do, but it certainly wasn’t planned.”