Italy has joined France in making vaccination compulsory for anyone wanting to play outdoor team sports, meaning Premier League players will need to be jabbed in order to move to Serie A this January.
The Italian government met this week to implement urgent changes to its coronavirus restrictions, with every sportsperson in the country – from the professional game to the amateur divisions – needing a ‘Green Pass’ in order to take part.
The ‘Green Pass’ is given out 15 days after a person has been vaccinated for the first time, with the Covid passport-style document also needed to enter swimming pools, festivals, religious buildings, hotels and public transport.
It is unlikely to affect Italy’s top football division as it was revealed earlier this month that 98 per cent of all Serie A footballers are double-jabbed in a league that has been unaffected by the Omicron variant so far.
But it could cause problems for any unvaccinated Liverpool players, who would not be allowed to play in their Champions League last-16 tie on February 16.
Italy has said that any sportsperson wanting to play in the country must be vaccinated
The rule will affect any Liverpool player who is not vaccinated ahead of their Champions League clash with Inter Milan on February 16
It is not known how many Liverpool players are vaccinated, though the Premier League did reveal that 16 per cent of top-flight footballers are yet to receive their first dose of the vaccine.
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has been fully supportive of players getting vaccinated and claimed earlier this month that the club would not be signing any new players who have not had both doses.
‘I think it (being vaccinated) will be influential, definitely, in who clubs sign,’ said the Liverpool manager. ‘If a player is not vaccinated at all, he is a constant threat for all of us.
‘He doesn’t want to be a threat, it’s not that he thinks “I don’t care about the others”, but he is.’
Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp is in favour of the vaccine and will not sign non-jabbed players
Meanwhile, the England rugby team go to Italy on February 13 for their Six Nations clash, so any players who are not jabbed will be banned from playing.
The new restrictions, which will begin on January 6 when Serie A resumes after its winter break, also affects the fans, who will need a ‘Green Pass’ in order to enter stadia at any level.
Those sports stars who are double-jabbed will also be exempt from any quarantine rules, but are advised to wear a mask for up to a week after their arrival.
Italy’s move comes just days after France president Emmanuel Macron announced that full, double-vaccinations will be mandatory for professional sports people in the country from January 15.
The ruling will also impact any unvaccinated England rugby players like Henry Slade (left) for their Six Nations trip in Italy on February 13
The rules could affect players in the England rugby team once again, who go to France for the final round of Six Nations matches on March 19. Chelsea, meanwhile, play a Champions League tie in Lille on March 16.
It is unknown how many England rugby players are not vaccinated but centre Henry Slade, who has Type 1 diabetes, insisted last summer that he would not be taking the vaccine due to problems with jabs in the past.
A spokeswoman for the French sports ministry said a decision would be made ‘within days’ on how the new rules will affect non-French teams competing in the country.
Currently, professional and amateur sportspeople in France need to show a Covid passport to gain access to stadiums and participate in games.
Similar Covid rules announced by France president Emmanuel Macron earlier this week
This can be obtained through being double-vaccinated or through a negative test, yet under the new rules the latter option will be removed in favour of a sole vaccination passport.
Latest figures state that 98 per cent of elite rugby players in France are vaccinated, with the figure slightly lower at 95 per cent of footballers. Yet, in both cases, that is higher than respective figures in England.
France has also become the latest nation to limit spectators at football matches with new Covid rules announced limiting outdoor gatherings to just 5,000 people.
It follows similar measures taken in Germany where 15,000 fans are now restricted to Bundesliga matches following rules brought in earlier in December.
The Italian government considered a similar move in their meeting this week but no decision was made on that in the minutes.
Italy saw the highest number of coronavirus cases hit on Christmas Day with 54,762 daily new cases, though that figure decreased on December 26 to 24,883.
France, meanwhile, also saw a record-high number of Covid-19 cases this week, with 104,611 on Christmas Day, increasing by 10,000 compared to the previous day. It was the first time the country has gone over 100,000 cases a day since the pandemic began.