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Juventus football star De Ligt backtracks on Covid vaccine denial despite saying that ‘you should be in charge of your own body’

Juventus football star De Ligt backtracks on Covid vaccine denial despite saying that ‘you should be in charge of your own body’
Juventus and Netherlands defender Matthijs de Ligt has backtracked after he became the latest name to voice his apprehension at taking a Covid-19 vaccine, issuing a statement to say that he will take the jab "as soon as possible".

The 21-year-old defensive prodigy, who is expected to be the centerpiece of the Dutch backline at this summer's European Championships in the absence of totemic Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk, was one of several footballers to contract Covid-19 in Serie A this season after he tested positive for the virus in January.

Despite the infection forcing him to miss two games, De Ligt was quoted as saying that he wasn't keen on taking the Covid-19 vaccine ahead Euro 2020, despite potential risks of missing crucial fixtures in the four-week long tournament which is set to kick-off next month should he suffer a repeat infection.

Speaking to ESPN, De Ligt confirmed that he was one of several members of the Dutch squad to opt out of receiving the jab.

"I have not taken a vaccination – it is not mandatory," said De Ligt. "I think you should be in charge of your own body. The risk of infection is always there. I try to come into contact with as few people as possible outside the Dutch national team."

Netherlands coach Frank de Boer said that De Ligt was among six members of his squad to refuse the vaccine.

"We have always said at KNVB [Dutch FA] that the people who need the vaccine the most should get it first," he said this week.

"That happened and now we think it could be a choice to vaccinate ourselves. In recent days, this was possible on a voluntary basis.

"I think about six players didn't do it. That's not a problem either, because you have to know for yourself if you have a shot. I said I would, but in the end it's the person's choice and we have to respect that."

However, in the hours after the interview was published De Ligt has reacted to the online incandescence at his supposed vaccine hesitancy, and has denied that he is a 'vaccine denier'. 

"In my recent interview, I was not clear with my response. In order to clear any doubts: I am absolutely in favur of the COVID-19 vaccination and will take it as soon as possible," he tweeted on Saturday evening. 

De Ligt's amended comments clearly come in contrast to the those attributed to him by ESPN but nonetheless proved to be a hot topic of debate on social media. 

Nearly 1.5 billion doses of the various Covid-19 vaccines have so far been administered worldwide. In rare cases, some people have displayed reactions to the jab – including potentially fatal blood clots.

Medical professionals have stated that the risks in not receiving the vaccine far outweigh those in taking it – and that mass acceptance of the jab is crucial to overcoming the virus and returning life to normal. 

De Ligt's comments on the vaccine come a day after England rugby star Henry Slade announced a similar apparent reluctance to receive the vaccine, telling The Telegraph that he "didn't fancy it".

Shortly afterwards, a statement appeared on the website of Slade's team, Exeter Chiefs, in which his vaccine comments were clarified to say that he was "in no way whatsoever offering advice to the general public as to the pros and cons of the vaccination programme."

Also on rt.com ‘I don’t fancy it at all’: England rugby star Henry Slade branded a ‘Covidiot’ for refusing to take coronavirus jab

"Thing is, aren't people like him keeping the virus alive and giving it a chance to mutate into a far worse strand that could eventually kill young healthy 22-year-olds and make all the vaccines 90 percent of the planet are taking worthless?" commented one fan on Twitter, while another said that De Ligt was entitled to his stance but that he shouldn't be allowed compete in the European Championships if he refused a vaccine. 

"Should talk to Kai Havertz about how Covid and long Covid covid can affect a footballer," said another, noting the difficulties that Chelsea's young Germany playmaker had in overcoming an infection this past season.

"You’re not in a better position just because you’re young and fit," said another.

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