Premier League needs to get serious about spitting
The Premier League is gearing up for the resumption of the 2019/20 campaign in the next fortnight, but it will certainly be a slimmed-down version and somewhat unrecognisable from how the game used to operate. Clubs have been trying to agree on a set of protocols that meet all safety measures and protect the players on their return, including providing portakabins at grounds as an alternative for away teams to get changed in. Goal celebrations and shirt swapping will be consigned to the past, at least for the meantime, while teams will be able to make five substitutions per game to reduce the chance of players picking up injuries.
There have been reports of 'snoop squads' making regular visits to training grounds over the past few weeks to see that all the suggested protocols are being adhered to, but there are significant challenges that lie ahead in the weeks to come.
But perhaps one thing on the agenda that has been overlooked or should have been afforded more attention is the subject of spitting. In any form, spitting is abhorrent, especially if players spit at each other and there have been repeat offenders over the years.
Spitting on the pitch is a disgusting habit. It has become second nature for many players to release phlegm as it helps them to clear their airways during matches, but it is an ugly sight. While perhaps not as serious as other forms of foul play that is viewed on an all too regular basis, spitting is unnecessary and should be regarded as a sin.
While there may be some pushback from players in relation to spitting, Fifa's Medical Committee chairman Michel D'Hooghe has previously raised his concerns in the past about the impact that spitting could have.
He said: "This [spitting] is a common practice in football and it is not very hygienic. So when we start football again I think we should have to avoid that at maximum.
"It is unhygienic and a good way to spread the virus. This is one of the reasons why we have to be very careful before we start again.
"I am not pessimistic but I am rather sceptical at the moment."
One solution would be to caution players who spit on the pitch. Players would think twice about doing it and everything has to be done to avoid a second spike of the coronavirus because the consequences would be catastrophic otherwise. The Premier League, in turn, has to show a united front and they will be scrutinised upon their return.
Players also must behave responsibly on the pitch especially when millions tune in all over the world to watch the Premier League. Far more needs to be done to clamp down on spitting and now more than ever, the Premier League can't turn a blind eye. It has to get serious and outlaw spitting once and for all.
Written by Charles Perrin
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