Italy could consider making vaccines mandatory for players

ROME (AP) — The Italian soccer federation is considering asking the government to make it mandatory for top-level players to get vaccinated for the coronavirus.

The Italian government has cracked down on unvaccinated people and a new decree this week made vaccinations mandatory for law enforcement, military and all school employees, among others. Previously, vaccines were only required for health care workers and anyone who worked in eldercare homes.

FIGC President Gabriele Gravina says he has already asked the players’ association and the heads of the different leagues in Italy to encourage their members to get vaccinated but could take it a step further.

“We have about 4-5% of players who don’t have the vaccine green pass, but for some of them it’s because they’ve had one of those that isn’t recognized in our country,” Gravina said on Thursday. “We’ll see and if numbers come out that don’t keep soccer safe we’ll ask the government for an ad hoc decree, like what was done with school employees for example.

“Apart from all the protocols, if non-vaccinated people go into the same changing room as others the risk is very high. And we can’t afford another debacle after all the sacrifices that have been made.”

Italy’s so-called “Green Pass” contains proof of vaccination, a recent negative test or having previously had COVID-19. With the new decree, the government is introducing a “reinforced” Green Pass that excludes the ability to show a negative test to get into certain places, including soccer stadiums, starting Dec. 6.

With rising numbers of COVID-19 cases across Europe, and with some stadiums closed to fans again, Italy is hoping that the new measures will allow it to keep its stadiums at 75% capacity.

“I agree with the government’s initiative,” Gravina said. “It’s the only way to protect our capacity of 75%.”

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