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4 Sep, 2021 08:30

‘Get the jab’: Mourinho tells Arsenal ace Xhaka to ‘be safe’ as Swiss FA condemns ‘hostility’ over choice to decline Covid vaccine

‘Get the jab’: Mourinho tells Arsenal ace Xhaka to ‘be safe’ as Swiss FA condemns ‘hostility’ over choice to decline Covid vaccine

Jose Mourinho has told Granit Xhaka to take a coronavirus vaccine amid an escalating row after the Swiss FA confirmed that the star had chosen not to get a jab before he tested positive for Covid-19.

Arsenal midfielder Xhaka was ruled out of Switzerland's 2-1 friendly win at home to Greece on Wednesday after returning a positive test, with his national team revealing that he had chsen not to be vaccinated ahead of a busy international period.

Fans spotted Mourinho among the chorus of voices urging Xhaka to take a vaccine shortly before the FA called for "respect and tolerance" rather than criticism of the 28-year-old's decision.

"Get the jab, Granit, and be safe," Roma boss Mourinho was spotted telling Xhaka on social media after the Switzerland captain posted about his excitement for the challenges ahead, leading to the Premier League ace replying: "Thank you, mister."

Mourinho's message would appear to suggest that the three-time Premier League winning manager has been encouraging his squad at his new club, who play in Italy's Serie A, to become vaccinated.

The former Tottenham coach has been linked with a move for Xhaka this summer, previously calling him the "main man" and the "leader" for the beleaguered Gunners and applauding him on social media after he thanked former Switzerland boss Vladimir Petkovic upon his departure from the hotseat at the end of Euro 2020.

Dominique Blanc, the president of the FA, confirmed Xhaka's choice. "It is a very personal decision whether someone wants to be vaccinated or not," he told Blick.

"Everyone in Switzerland has the right to decide for themselves. This also applies to the captain of our national team.

"Granite has faced hostility and accusations publicly and in the media and been personally threatened and insulted. We do not accept or tolerate that.

"We stand for respect and tolerance – these are essential basic values ​​of our association. We urge and ask everyone to respect and tolerate this personal decision by Granit Xhaka and every other person in our country."

Blanc, who was hospitalized by the virus before recovering, said 48 out of 50 players and staff members of the national team have been vaccinated.

"Name an organization or a company that can show a similar rate. These figures speak for themselves that we are implementing what we recommend.

"Our captain decided against the Covid vaccination. We respect this personal decision, even if, as a football association, we recommend vaccination to all of our members.

"It is the right of every single person in Switzerland to decide for themselves whether they want to be vaccinated or not.

"Most of the players know my story, but there was no need to convince them. We recommended vaccination, but it is up to you whether you want to vaccinate or not."

The 71-year-old said the recommendation for vaccination had been agreed with regional associations, receiving a "largely positive" reaction.

"We want to help contain the virus and contribute to fewer people getting sick, being in isolation or quarantine," he explained.

"Isolation and quarantine always have an impact on the private and professional lives of the people concerned and, of course, on the game and training operations.

"We want as few people as possible in our clubs to come into contact with the virus and infect themselves and others."

Social media provided a snapshot of the mixed reaction to Xhaka's predicament. "Why must the 'hostility' against him for not being vaccinated be condemned?" asked a critic.

"Their FA should be condemning him – he’s literally putting people’s lives at risk and harming his teams."

Another replied: "Do you understand the concept of a human right to choose what goes into their own body, or are you blind, deaf and dumb?

"When has it become your responsibility what goes into my own body, or have you lost all rational? You've been watching too much TV. Brainwashed."

Mourinho may fear the worst for Arsenal when the Premier League returns. The Portuguese has warned that the top-flight's bottom side are "lost" without him, but the two-time FA Cup winner will serve a suspension after being sent off in the 5-0 defeat at Manchester City last Saturday.

Switzerland host Italy on Sunday and visit Northern Ireland on Wednesday in World Cup 2022 qualifiers.

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