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Footballers criticised as 'brainless' for hugging in goal celebrations amid Covid

Footballers who have continued to hug when celebrating goals despite the worsening coronavirus crisis have been “brainless”, according to the chair of the key parliamentary sports committee.

Manchester City and Fulham players crowded together after scoring in their respective matches on Wednesday. The Premier League’s latest Covid protocols make no explicit reference to celebrations but call on players to avoid unnecessary contact.

Pep Guardiola defended City’s players, saying: “Sometimes the brain is a subconscious one and you are just there in the moment, you are not thinking.”

Julian Knight, the chair of the digital, culture, media and sport committee, said: “Some of the scenes we have seen have been brainless and give out an awful message.”

The Football Association has asked clubs to observe protocols not only as they are written but to subscribe to their spirit. The EFL’s chief executive, Trevor Birch, warned its clubs they were “under the microscope” as never before after professional sport was given government go-ahead to continue amid a new national lockdown.

Knight, the Conservative MP for Solihull, said a decision on whether elite sport could continue was “a matter for governing bodies and the health experts”.

He cast doubt though on whether the plan for this summer’s delayed Euro 2020 finals could be executed. He said: “I am beginning to wonder whether the likes of the summer’s rescheduled Euro tournament will be open to go ahead as planned across 12 countries.”

The semi-finals and final are due to be played at Wembley, with matches also set to take place in Amsterdam, Baku, Bilbao, Bucharest, Budapest, Copenhagen, Dublin, Glasgow, Munich, Rome and St Petersburg.

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