The Swiss Football Association has confirmed that Granit Xhaka turned down the Covid-19 vaccination before testing positive for the virus.
The Arsenal midfielder is isolating from the rest of his Switzerland teammates on international duty, and the Swiss FA’s head of communications Adrian Arnold, confirmed Xhaka had rejected vaccination.
“Granit Xhaka was not vaccinated,” Arnold told Swiss publication Blick.
“He’s a player who isn’t vaccinated. We left this up to each player, it’s a personal decision of each player – just like any other person in Switzerland.
“We have issued a recommendation that everyone vaccinate. But he decided for himself personally. And it is also his right not to be vaccinated.”
“All the other players in the team have been vaccinated or have recovered [from Covid] – so they are more or less safe, at least from a medical point of view. One is never quite sure.
“Accordingly, we have a very high vaccination rate. Now, unfortunately, Granit got caught. From a sporting point of view, it is a shame for us at this important moment.”
Research has conclusively shown that Covid vaccines reduce an individual’s risk of catching or spreading Covid-19, and its variants.
But The Telegraph found in research conducted across the English Football League that a third of players have no plans to get vaccinated.
News of Xhaka’s positive test was confirmed on the same day the SFA recommended players in the Swiss leagues, coaches, officials, staff members and volunteers to be vaccinated against Covid.
And Blick editor Andreas Boni says Xhaka had ‘acted irresponsibly’.
The journalist questioned (via Sport Witness) how a ‘role model for many’ isn’t vaccinated.
And despite Boni making it clear that getting vaccinated is a personal choice, he adds: ‘Basically it is negligent not to be vaccinated as a professional footballer.’
‘You travel a lot, on planes, on buses, and you are constantly on the move with different groups of people. And if you get caught, an entire team is threatened with quarantine, which endangers the game.’
Xhaka has had a week to forget having been sent off against Manchester City – a decision he described as “brutally surprising”.