Roy Hodgson: Difficult to control on-field emotions to adhere to guidelines

Aston Villa v Crystal Palace – Premier League – Villa Park
(Image credit: Catherine Ivill)

Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson says it is difficult for emotions to be controlled in a game situation amid calls for Premier League players to stop celebrating goals.

Referees in the top flight are to warn captains “the eyes of the world are on us” in pre-match meetings after celebrations continue to occur in the division.

Premier League chief executive Richard Masters wrote to all 20 clubs on Tuesday reiterating the importance of adhering to new, stricter coronavirus protocols.

In the wake of several outbreaks at clubs and a number of postponements, players have been told to avoid hugging, handshakes and swapping shirts, but Hodgson has sympathy for them.

Ahead of Palace’s trip to Arsenal on Thursday, he said: “The tension, stress and anxiety of the game, you look at the managers on the touchline and you can see anxiety etched on their faces.

“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?

“I just think it’s a very very difficult thing to deal with and I don’t have the answer to how we deal with it, I really don’t.

“I’m open to suggestions about when a player scores a goal, but what are we going to do when players get into a huddle? 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 think some of the other things that the Premier League are keen to stop with the new protocols, with regard the training ground and the canteens, they are easy enough to follow and I think it’s good that we follow them.

“But when the match starts, stopping the celebration, stopping a manager shaking hands with another manager after games gets forgotten.”

Several players have breached Covid-19 regulations in recent weeks and Palace have had to discipline captain Luka Milivojevic and Ebere Eze for failing to adhere to Government guidelines.

With coronavirus cases on the rise and the country essentially in another lockdown, it has been put to managers whether football should continue.

Newcastle boss Steve Bruce last week admitted “financially it’s right but maybe morally it’s wrong” when quizzed on the sport being able to carry on.

Hodgson added: “I think the reason why football was sanctioned to carry on in the first lockdown was 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.

“I think football in general, and the Premier League and footballers in general, are doing their level best to keep everyone safe and to keep the football coming but if it’s decided by Government or by public opinion that football is totally out of order then we’ll have to accept that.

“Overall I don’t think we’re there yet so we must try to keep doing the right things, keep trying to play the game for people until such time that someone decides that now we really do have to pull the plug.

“But 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.”

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