Pep Guardiola has called for mask mandates to be put in place for all public spaces in order to keep Premier League stadiums open to fans.
The Man City manager's calls for obligatory mask-wearing in stadiums comes as Covid-19 cases continue to rise throughout the UK - reaching a peak of 121,000 on Christmas Eve.
That spike has led to multiple Premier League games being postponed in recent weeks, with just four games being played last weekend and three games postponed on Boxing Day, with Tottenham vs Crystal Palace under threat too. As a result of the volume of cases there have been rumblings that stadiums may be closed to the public once again in the near future.
Football grounds across the UK and Europe were closed for the bulk of last season, and when asked about the possibility of playing behind closed doors again, Guardiola said (via The Guardian): “I would not love it, honestly.
"You cannot imagine how different it is playing with people. But cases rise all around the world, not only in the UK, and in the football bubbles. These people go to the stadiums and can contaminate [others because] in the stadiums, people don’t use masks.
“It’s what I’m surprised about the most – you go to the street, big malls, places to buy presents for the family, no one wears a mask. The scientists from the beginning say the most protection you can have is via hand sanitisers and [face masks].
“In Spain now it will be an obligation not just in [some] places but outdoors. So on the street you have to wear it. We should start again – you know [fans at matches should be] vaccinated, have a booster if this is what is decided, but as part of that, hand sanitiser, social distance and masks too.
"Like this, the restaurants could still be open, football could go on. We have to try to do it, otherwise, you know, another [ban] may be coming. [And] it [may] be again and again.”
Man City are set to welcome Leicester City to the Etihad Stadium on Boxing Day.