Premier League teams would no longer engage in the pre-match handshakes until further notice so as to curtail the spread of Coronavirus.
The Premier League stated that the traditional “fair play” handshake will not take place with the teams instead lining up and then walking past each other without shaking hands.
The move goes beyond Public Health England’s latest guidance, which says although refraining from shaking hands may be advised in the future, “we are not there yet”. The Football League (EFL) has so far not advised against shaking hands by players at its 72 clubs.
A Premier League statement read: “The Premier League fair-play handshake will not take place between players and match officials from this weekend until further notice based on medical advice.
“Coronavirus is spread via droplets from the nose and mouth and can be transmitted onto the hands and passed on via a handshake.
“Club and match officials will still perform the rest of the traditional walk-out protocol ahead of each fixture. On entering the field of play, the two teams will continue to line up, accompanied by the Premier League music, then players from the home team will walk past their opposition with shaking their hands.”
Newcastle, Southampton, West Ham and Wolves are among those to have already banned handshakes at training sessions, while other European clubs have implemented similar measures to prevent the spread of the virus.
Earlier on Thursday, Everton director Sasha Ryazantsev admitted the outbreak is likely to “force” matches to be played behind closed doors this month.
“It would be a forced decision rather than one we would proactively engage in,” Ryazantsev said at the Financial Times Business of Football Summit.
“But the whole situation goes far beyond the world of sport. Of course nobody wants to play behind closed doors and I don’t think it’s inevitable at the moment that it will happen. But we feel it is quite likely it may happen in the coming weeks.”
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