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First Team

Hodgson comments on Milivojevic apology and reiterates expectations of players during pandemic

7 January 2021

Roy Hodgson called the recent breach of coronavirus restrictions by Luka Milivojevic “a grave mistake”, but welcomed the captain’s public apology and donation to the NHS, adding that he has done enough to earn a second chance.

“Luka made a grave mistake, and he’s taken responsibility for it,” he said in his pre-Wolves press conference. “He’s put out a statement which I think covers things quite well.

“He’s made a substantial contribution to the NHS which we were very pleased he suggested he wanted to do, because a fine would have gone back into the club coffers. I think the money going to the NHS is far more relevant in this situation because it is the NHS who are suffering the enormous burden of this strain of the virus, which is filling hospital beds.

“I think as a club we’ve conducted ourselves well, we’ve done an awful lot in the community. I think we’ve shown a lot of responsibility.

“As for Luka Milivojevic, he’s made a grave mistake but once again if you see it in the round, some of the things he’s done for the community and the club in the last three-and-a-half years also fully entitles him to a second chance.”

Hodgson made clear the responsibility of the players to follow coronavirus protocol has been pressed home to the squad: “We’ve made it very clear to the players that we are in a privileged position that we are able to continue our jobs.

“But if we are to continue, we have to make certain there are no incidents like the ones we saw over the festive period. So many people are suffering in much less of a privileged position that we in football find ourselves, and we have to be aware of that.”

The manager added: “One should never be blasé about this situation we have now. We’re talking about a very very serious pandemic, not just costing lives but causing a lot of misery – so many fans that we have are suffering in many ways, the illness, mental illness, loss of income because their jobs have disappeared. 

“This is a totally different issue so there’s nothing that prepares us as football managers – saying or doing the right thing, dealing with players in the right way. All we can do is do what we’ve tried to do up until now. I reiterate everything Crystal Palace F.C. has done.  

“When an incident occurs which is totally wrong, to own that, to take responsibility for that and expect the player guilty to take responsibility, and are certain everyone knows we do understand we’re being held to a higher account, that the spotlight is going to be on us because we’re in a privileged position.”

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