Players traveling to Dubai should apologize for Covid postponements, says West Ham’s Gilly Flaherty


Gilly Flaherty (left) in action against Arsenal, who had a player tested positive on their return from Dubai

Players who forced the postponement of two Women’s Super League matches after trips to Dubai should apologize, West Ham skipper Gilly Flaherty said.

Manchester City’s game against West Ham and Arsenal’s trip to Aston Villa have both been called off after five players tested positive for the coronavirus after a trip to Christmas.

The travel, which was not illegal but against the advice of the government, caused anger and frustration in women’s football.

Flaherty said it reflected an “arrogance” that she said went hand in hand with increased wages and professionalism in the game.

She said, “I hope the girls involved will do the decent thing and come out and apologize.

“As much as the growth of women’s football is brilliant now that we are able to be full-time professionals and inspire the younger generation, I really don’t like the arrogance that money and wages have brought.

“The players have to stay humble and remember how quickly that can change. ”

Manchester City has sanctioned travel to the United Arab Emirates for four senior players, all of whom have since tested positive for the coronavirus.

They all live in Manchester, which had level three restrictions, meaning they could travel, but the government advised against it.

Three Arsenal players have traveled to Dubai without the club’s permission, one of them since testing positive for Covid-19.

The Football Federation said both matches were called off because neither side could field 14 players.

‘A rule in place that works for everyone’

Birmingham City Manager Carla Ward expects to name a maximum squad of 12 with just 10 in training on Friday for their trip to Tottenham on Sunday.

“We’re running really bad, but if the FA says we have to play the game, we’ll go play the game,” Ward said.

“We went to Leicester and had 12 players and 13 against Aston Villa – we asked for this game to be postponed as we had two players who hadn’t kicked the ball for a week and we were told no.

“There has to be a rule in place that works for everyone. We cannot speak of a rule for Covid when Arsenal have only one bright spot. I think this needs to be looked at. The well-being of the players must be at the forefront. “

There has also been criticism of the FA after Bristol City were beaten 8-1 by Manchester City in November when five first-team players were missing due to Covid-19.

Reading and Scotland left-back Emma Mitchell, who played for Arsenal, tweeted: “We see you FA. Different rules for different teams. “

The FA say every game is judged on its own merits, with safety coming first.

Baroness Sue Campbell, FA Women’s Football Officer, told BBC Sport She was “personally disappointed” to see the players fly to Dubai at Christmas but stressed that “it was up to the clubs, not the FA” to face the consequences.

“When you see the pressures everyone is under – whether it’s the NHS or just the people who are really struggling for mental well-being at home – I think it’s important that each of us act as a role model “, she says.

Everton boss Willie Kirk also expressed frustration, saying his own players had been “exemplary during this time.”

“I had a few foreign players in tears after the Arsenal game because they didn’t want to go home in case they had a hard time coming back to training. I made sure they were doing it because I felt it was important for their mental well-being, ”he added.

“There were probably more important things to focus on during this time than going on vacation to Dubai. “

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