Callum Robinson revealed on Tuesday that he does not currently intend to receive a Covid vaccination, and he's not alone on that front in Ireland's squad. James Crombie/INPHO
jabs for the boys

FAI: 'We must accept the right of individuals to make a personal choice' on vaccine, following Robinson comments

‘We have encouraged all our players at all levels of the game to be vaccinated,’ said Irish football’s governing body.

THE FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION of Ireland has said that it has encouraged all football players in the country to take a vaccination against Covid-19 but that it acknowledges the right for individuals to decline the vaccine where they personally see fit.

A statement released by the Association this afternoon followed a press conference yesterday at which Ireland and West Bromwich Albion attacker Callum Robinson revealed he had not taken the jab and that, currently, he had no intention to do so, repeatedly describing it as a personal choice.

Robinson has contracted Covid twice: firstly in November 2020 (prior to the vaccine’s public availability in the UK, where he lives), causing him to miss Ireland’s friendly with England along with Nations League games with Wales and Bulgaria; and secondly in August of this year, ruling him out of Ireland’s World Cup qualifying trip to Portugal. He subsequently returned for the home qualifiers versus Azerbaijan and Serbia but was not deemed fit enough to start in either fixture.

Ireland manager Stephen Kenny later said that he is fully vaccinated and outlined his preference for all of Ireland’s players to get the jab. But with over 10 players in his squad currently unvaccinated, the former Dundalk boss expressed his belief that it would be “extremely radical” to exclude players from future squads based on their aversions to the vaccine, stressing the need to “respect individuals’ rights as well”. Ireland U21 boss Jim Crawford, meanwhile, revealed last week that seven players in his squad are yet to receive the jab and are at risk of being unable to play an upcoming European Championship qualifier in Montenegro as the country is on the UK’s red list.

The FAI has this afternoon echoed Kenny’s sentiment, releasing a statement in which its policy towards the jab was clarified.

“The Football Association of Ireland can confirm that all players and staff are tested for Covid-19 before reporting for international duty with Republic of Ireland teams and are tested repeatedly in camp in line with FAI and Uefa protocols,” the statement began.

We have encouraged all our players at all levels of the game to be vaccinated but we respect and must accept the right of all individuals to make a personal choice on Covid-19 vaccination.

“The Association will continue to exercise the highest standards for the safety of all our stakeholders. Our Covid-19 testing protocols for all players and staff on international duty strictly follow Uefa protocols and are compliant with all Irish Government guidelines.

“The FAI reconfirms our support for all government, Uefa and Fifa protocols during the Covid-19 pandemic. We thank all our stakeholders for their ongoing exemplary compliance with government guidelines over the last 19 months.”

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