(Reuters) – Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuettl said the number of unvaccinated players was too high after the English Football League (EFL) revealed 25% of footballers from its 72 clubs do not intend to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
The Premier League is reeling from coronavirus enforced postponements, while Championship, League One and League Two matches have also been called off amid a surge in cases.
Training grounds have been shut to curb the spread of the virus, with Britain reporting a record 88,376 new COVID-19 infections on Thursday.
The Premier League’s most recent data on vaccination levels of players in mid-October found that 81% of players had received at least one vaccination dose with 68% double vaccinated.
“It is too high a percentage in my opinion,” said Hasenhuettl, referring to the EFL’s data. “I can only speak about our club, and we have a nearly 100% vaccination rate… I feel safer in an environment like this.
“I do not know if this is the reason that we have no cases here, but I am very happy we have a different mindset … We have done a lot of talking, a lot of convincing and in the end, it is about the players having an open mind.
Southampton, 15th in the Premier League on 17 points, will take on fifth-placed West Ham United on Dec. 26.
(Reporting by Hritika Sharma in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford)