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9 Apr, 2021 11:23

Premier League bosses back Covid passport test plans – but ex-England ace Neville adds to chorus of criticism

Premier League bosses back Covid passport test plans – but ex-England ace Neville adds to chorus of criticism

Leading UK sports organizations – including the football Premier League – have said they support the government’s plans to test a Covid certification scheme for fans returning to venues, despite widespread scepticism remaining.

Boris Johnson’s government is running a series of test events in the coming weeks as fans return to sporting venues in limited numbers – including big sporting occasions such as the FA Cup Final in May – which in some cases are likely to involve a ‘Covid passport’ for those hoping to attend.  

That could be in the form of a negative Covid test, confirmation of vaccination, or proof of natural immunity.

Also on rt.com Fears over ‘second-class citizens’, freedoms & rights as UK government ‘plans Covid passport trials at sports events within weeks’

A number of UK sports bodies have now jointly signed a letter backing the plans, which they have sent to senior political figures including PM Johnson.

Titled “Sports support Covid certification (testing and vaccination) review as a credible option to enable full venues from 21 June onwards”, the letter includes the English Football Association, the Premier League, the All England Tennis Club at Wimbledon and the Silverstone motor-racing circuit as signatories, according to the BBC.

"We know that our stadia can only be fully filled with an assurance process," it states.

"This process must ensure that everyone can access stadia and must include arrangements that would verify a negative Covid test or an antibody test or vaccination certification."

The groups warned, however, that "the final approach must not be discriminatory and should protect privacy.”

The UK is currently on a roadmap to lifting Covid restrictions, with England targeting 21 June as a date for a ‘full reopening’ – even though sports arenas filled to capacity are not expected until at least late summer.

Johnson has been at pains to state that the government’s Covid passport plans are merely exploratory and that no final decision has been, although that has done little to quell fears of growing authoritarianism.

One prominent critic is former Wolverhampton Wanderers star Carl Ikeme, who has branded the notion of Covid certification “discriminatory.” 

Elsewhere, others fear it will lead to the creation of a “two-tier society.”

Also on rt.com ‘A form of discrimination’: Goalkeeping ace lashes out at UK govt ‘Covid passport’ plans for FA Cup final

An even more prominent voice has now joined the condemnation of the plans, as ex-England and Manchester United star Gary Neville – now a popular TV pundit – stated that he was against the idea.

Holding a Twitter Q and A on Thursday, Neville was asked whether Covid passports for football grounds were a good idea.

“No I don’t agree with it,” Neville replied succinctly.  

Many expressed similar sentiments to Neville after the news that the Premier League was among those to back the government's initial test plans.

“Hopefully people tell them to F off, they will soon let people back in normally once they get really desperate for cash,” wrote one disgruntled fan.

“All it needs is a little stand your ground and wait them out. It won't take long for them to let you back in the normal way, they will soon realise they need fans.”

Also on rt.com UK to offer under-30s alternative Covid-19 vaccine amid evidence linking AstraZeneca jab to blood clots

Johnson has faced a cross-party political backlash over the idea of Covid passports, including from former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith and ex-Labour supremo Jeremy Corbyn.

Liberal Democrats leader Ed Davey has stated: “As we start to get this virus properly under control we should start getting our freedoms back. Vaccine passports – essentially Covid ID cards – take us in the other direction.”   

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