Roy Hodgson believes Eberechi Eze showed “naivety” when he became the latest footballer to breach coronavirus protocols but the Crystal Palace playmaker is free to face Arsenal on Thursday after being fined.
The 22-year-old attended his former club QPR’s FA Cup tie with Fulham on Saturday and failed to wear a mask at all times. Eze was also pictured with only one seat between him and another person in the directors’ box at Loftus Road.
“When he realised what he did – naively I must point out and without any malice – he was full of remorse, regret and wanted to take responsibility and apologise to everybody,” Hodgson said.
“Do I think the foolish thing Eberechi did merits that he should be left out of the team and punished in that way? I don’t. I don’t think what he did would merit that type of punishment, but it does merit a fine because a slap on the wrist isn’t really enough.”
Palace were unaware Eze planned to attend the match and QPR have conceded they made an error in accepting Eze’s request to watch.
“We are very upset and a bit disappointed too he wasn’t stopped from going and I know QPR have done well in that respect,” Palace’s manager said. “They have taken responsibility because had we known he planned to do that, we would have stopped it. He has apologised and will learn a harsh lesson from it.”
The incident occurred a week after the Palace captain Luka Milivojevic was fined for mixing with Aleksandar Mitrovic and the Fulham player’s family on New Year’s Eve.
Celtic’s Lawwell apologises for ‘regrettable’ Dubai trip
The Celtic chief executive, Peter Lawwell, has admitted the club’s controversial decision to go to Dubai for a mid-season break was a “mistake” and has apologised to Hoops supporters.
The Scottish Premiership club confirmed that the defender Christopher Jullien tested positive for Covid-19 after the trip. All other players and staff members were negative after being checked following their return to Scotland last Friday.
Thirteen players, manager Neil Lennon and assistant John Kennedy were deemed to be close contacts, however, and had to join the French defender in self-isolation. The absences meant a makeshift Celtic side took the field for Monday’s 1-1 draw with Hibernian at Celtic Park.
In an interview on the club’s official website, Lawwell said: “It has been an extremely difficult few days and on reflection, looking at the outcome of the trip, clearly it was a mistake and for that I profoundly apologise to our supporters.
“We left here and the rationale for the camp was very much with the best intentions,” Lawwell added. “Things haven’t gone the way we wanted to and the outcome is clearly very regrettable.” The 61-year-old refuted accusations of arrogance that have been aimed at the club over the trip.
“I don’t see that, I don’t agree with that and I think it is actually unfair,” Lawwell said. “I do understand people questioning the decision to go. This club, the values and standards we have in terms of integrity, respect and humility are there. Looking at the pandemic, it is fair to say that we have done an awful lot as a club.
“The attitude we have to it has been responsible in terms of our record, and how we have been protecting our people and our players. Through our foundation we have donated over £1m to those have been worst affected,” he added. “So I think it is unfair. We have made a mistake and we apologise for that but the club that the fans would like to have is here.”