Mason Greenwood and Phil Foden have both apologised after Gareth Southgate confirmed the pair will not travel with the England squad from Iceland to Denmark for breaching UEFA’s coronavirus protocols.
The FA has launched a “full investigation” into an incident which saw Greenwood and Foden break quarantine rules while at their team hotel in Reykjavik on Sunday night.
Sky Sports News has been told England’s game in Denmark on Tuesday night, live on Sky Sports, will go ahead as scheduled after talks between UEFA and FA officials.
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Iceland’s police force has confirmed to Sky Sports News the players have each been fined 250,000 Icelandic Krona (£1,360) for the rule breach, which must be paid by the individuals themselves and not by the FA or their clubs.
Southgate confirmed the pair broke coronavirus secure bubble guidelines and have been sent back to England, without contact with any other players since Monday morning.
“Unfortunately this morning it was brought to my attention that the two boys have broken the Covid guidelines in terms of our secure bubble.
“We had to decide very quickly that they could not have any interaction with the team, wouldn’t be able to train. Given the procedures we have to follow now, they have to travel back to England separately.”
Southgate said the breach had occurred outside of the part of the hotel the FA has booked for the England squad.
“Nothing has happened in the areas we occupy in the team hotel,” he insisted.
“We are still getting to the depths of all the information because it was only brought to my attention only a couple of hours before training, I am still getting to grips with some of the detail.
“What is clear is that there was a breach of the coronavirus guidelines. We spent such a long time getting those measures in place, the whole squad followed that together.
“We have had four tests in the period we have been together. Our staff have been incredible in keeping that secure and tight.
“In that respect we have no alternative but to do what we are doing.”
Greenwood: A lesson I will learn from
“Having now had the chance to reflect on what’s happened, I can only apologise to everyone for the embarrassment I have caused,” Greenwood said on Tuesday in a statement on United’s website.
“It was irresponsible of me to break the Covid-19 protocols which are in place to protect players, staff and the public.
“In particular, I want to apologise to Gareth Southgate, for letting him down when he had shown great trust in me. Playing for England was one of the proudest moments in my life and I only have myself to blame for this huge mistake.
“I promise my family, the fans, Manchester United and England that this is a lesson I will learn from.”
Foden vows to learn from ‘poor decision’
Foden issued a lengthy apology on Monday. In a statement on Instagram, the Manchester City midfielder said: “Following the story which has emerged today regarding my actions in Iceland, I want to make a full apology.
“I apologise to Gareth Southgate, to my England team mates, to the staff, supporters and also to my club and my family.
“When I was called up by Gareth for these games, my first reaction was that of immense pride. To pull on that shirt for the senior team in my England debut was an incredible privilege.
“I am a young player with a lot to learn, but I am aware of the huge responsibility I have in representing Manchester City and England at this level.
“On this occasion I made a poor decision and my behaviour didn’t meet the standards expected of me.
“I breached COVID-19 protocols put in place to protect myself and my England colleagues. As a consequence I will now miss the opportunity to travel to Denmark with the squad, and that hurts.
“I will learn a valuable lesson from this error in judgement and I wish Gareth and the team good luck this week.”
FA to launch full investigation into breach
UEFA has accepted the version of events provided by Southgate and England officials, and also that the rest of the England squad remains bio-secure.
As a result, European football’s governing body concluded there is no reason for Tuesday night’s Nations League game to be compromised.
An FA spokesperson said: “Whilst in Iceland, both Phil Foden and Mason Greenwood spent time outside of our private team area, which was a breach of our COVID-19 rules.
“While they did not leave the team hotel, it was an unacceptable breach of our protocol. They have both apologised for their serious lack of judgement.
“The FA will be launching a full investigation into the circumstances leading up to this breach. We have spoken to the Football Association of Iceland to offer our apologies for this incident and to ensure them that we are taking the appropriate steps.
“We have also assured the Danish Football Union that all other players and staff members have been isolated within our group throughout this period.”
Southgate believes the game against Denmark is not in any danger of being called off because of how staff followed guidelines and restricted access for Foden and Greenwood from the rest of the team.
Denmark vs England
September 8, 2020, 7:00pm
“We are very clear that no other members of our party have been in contact with those players. That’s why they couldn’t join us for breakfast or training. We followed the guidelines,” he said.
“It is a very serious situation and we have treated it that way and acted as quickly as we have been able to. They have been naive and we have dealt with it appropriately. The whole world is dealing with this pandemic and every age group has a responsibility in keeping each other safe.”
The pair were the only players absent as Southgate took his final tactical session at the Laugardalsvollur Stadium in Reykjavik before Tuesday’s game.
Both players made their full international debuts in Saturday’s 1-0 Nations League over Iceland.
Southgate will have a 21-man squad to choose from for the game in Copenhagen, which is live on Sky Sports Football from 7pm on Tuesday, with Kyle Walker suspended after receiving a red card in Reykjavik.
Denmark manager: It’s not a good situation
Denmark remain hopeful the England game will go ahead but will speak to UEFA ahead of Tuesday’s meeting.
Manager Kasper Hjulmand says they will accept whatever outcome is decided.
“It’s not a good situation,” Hjulmand said. “The Danish FA will take care of this and look into it. The protocols are very strict and we will accept whatever UEFA comes up with. If they think it is a good idea to keep going then of course we will. We hope we can play this game.
“It’s very important that we stay within the protocols that we have been given. It’s about football and the survival of football, being able to play is very important.
“There’s been a lot going on so that we can actually play these matches so we have to be focused.”
Man Utd and Man City condemn Greenwood and Foden behaviour
Manchester United say they are “disappointed with the actions of Mason Greenwood over this situation” and it is understood they will await the findings of an FA investigation before deciding what action to take against the 18-year-old.
Greenwood will be tested for COVID-19 before he returns to training at Carrington.
Meanwhile, Manchester City say Foden’s “inappropriate” behaviour falls below the club’s standards and the club support the FA regarding the incident.
“It is clear that Phil’s actions were totally inappropriate,” City said in a statement.
“His behaviour not only directly contravenes strict guidelines related to Covid-19, but also falls well below the standard expected of a Manchester City player and England international.
“The club supports the FA regarding this incident, and officials from the club are now in touch in relation to Phil’s enforced early return to the UK.
“We have no further comment to make on this matter.”
How to watch Nations League on Sky Sports
You will be able to watch all 162 Nations League matches live on Sky Sports – plus the semi-finals, third-place play-off and final. Games will be shown across our main channels and via the red button.
For a full rundown of Nations League fixtures and where to watch them on Sky Sports head to our fixture page.
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