The Football Association will not take action against three Arsenal Women’s players who, although a Level 4 ban was in effect in London, flew to Dubai over the Christmas season without the blessing of the club.
One unnamed player has tested positive for Covid-19 after returning from the United Arab Emirates and Joe Montemurro’s side have asked the Football Association to postpone their Women’s Super League match on Saturday at Aston Villa.
After four City players tested positive for the virus after spending the holidays in Dubai, Manchester City’s home game against West Ham on Saturday is also in question.
While only one first-team Arsenal player tested positive, some players from the squad of Joe Montemurro live in shared housing and some players have been forced to separate themselves, it is known.
When the WSL went on its Christmas break, the Arsenal trio, who are all internationals, did not notify club officials of their travel plans, instead informing officials that it was a business trip that was allowed under Level 4 rules.
It is suspected that Arsenal acknowledged the reasons of the trio but “reminded” them of their duties, although separate teammates are allegedly furious at the chaos caused by the three.
In view of the fact that there are no statutory regulations in the WSL banning players from going abroad during the pandemic and that the league was in the middle of the season break, the FA does not wish to interfere, preferring to leave it to the clubs to manage their workers in such matters.
If Irish international Katie McCabe had not shared Instagram photographs of herself in a bikini on a beach, enjoying the sun on the Gulf with a drink in her hand, the Arsenal players’ outing may have gone undetected.
McCabe said later that she had flown to the UAE to meet her agent.
Ian Wright, a former Arsenal striker, took to social media to suggest that if the game did not take place, it would be unfair to a Villa team that had already postponed three WSL games due to the corona virus. Wright tweeted, “Why should Villa be penalized, play the game,”
The Manchester City quartet traveled with the club’s permission – apparently even for commercial purposes.
Manchester was in Category 3 at the time, where international travel to “air corridor countries” such as the United Arab Emirates is allowed but not recommended.
While WSL players are regularly checked once a week, Gareth Taylor’s side of the City test every 48 hours and have told the FA that it might be appropriate to postpone the game against West Ham.
In the next 48 hours, the FA will determine if a postponement is necessary.
While a covid epidemic has affected the men’s team of Pep Guardiola, the men’s and women’s teams do not share facilities at the Etihad Campus and there is cautious hope that the issue has been contained in Taylor’s squad.