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Three at Blackburn have swine flu


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...and four Bolton players had it but have already recovered.

Footballers warned that spitting could help spread swine flu

Paul Doyle


First footballers were told to tuck in their shirts, then to cut out swearing, and now comes their greatest challenge: to stop spitting [ :D ]. While players have carried on spewing obscenities regardless of all official cautions, health officials have warned that failure to stem their streams of saliva will accelerate the spread of swine flu.

The message comes days after revelations of outbreaks of the virus at two Premier League clubs – Bolton Wanderers and Blackburn Rovers – and Sam Allardyce's warning that Chelsea could face their own outbreak. "Spitting is disgusting at all times," a spokesperson from the Health Protection Agency said. "It's unhygienic and unhealthy, particularly if you spit close to other people. Footballers, like the rest of us, wouldn't spit indoors so they shouldn't do it on the football pitch.

"If they are spitting near other people it could certainly increase the risk of passing on infections. Certainly, spitting is a nasty habit that should be discouraged – and it should be discouraged by the clubs. [ :D again...]"

The HPA official suggested that just as youngsters seek to emulate professionals' dribbles, so too may they copy players' sputters. "It's about setting examples for young people who idolise them," said the spokesperson, who added that footballers should follow the same guidelines as other members of the public by washing their hands, covering their mouth when sneezing and disposing of used tissues: "The advice is catch it, bin it, kill it."

Carlo Ancelotti, meanwhile, said he has no concerns about any potential outbreak of swine flu at Chelsea following their match against Blackburn on Saturday and ahead of their Carling Cup tie against Bolton tomorrow. The Chelsea manager said he swore by a very traditional remedy.

"It is my grandmother's prescription," Ancelotti said. "It's hot milk with red wine. Fantastic. [ [xx(] !!!] I'm not worried [about swine flu]. My players will shake hands and swap shirts with their opponents as normal, absolutely. The flu is not only on the pitch. It's everywhere. We take all the precautions we need and we think only about playing."

Four Bolton players have so far contracted and recovered from the illness but their manager, Gary Megson, does not believe there is any particular risk in pressing ahead with tomorrow night's tie at Stamford Bridge. That belief appears rooted in opinions at odds with the HPA's warning.

"I've heard varying opinions," Megson said. "I think the one we all need to listen to is that from the medical people, who are saying that it is very difficult, if not impossible, to contract it in that way. They are all OK at the moment but it wouldn't be right to start giving you names."

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