Soccer-Palace's Hodgson condemns Milivojevic after COVID-19 rules breach

(Reuters) – Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson condemned captain Luka Milivojevic after the Serbian midfielder appeared to breach COVID-19 guidelines on New Year’s Eve by attending a party, but said he would not be stripped of the armband.

Social media pictures showed Milivojevic and Fulham striker Aleksandar Mitrovic at a gathering with at least seven other adults on New Year’s Eve.

Under British government guidelines set on Dec. 19, those living in Tier 4 regions, which includes London where the clubs are located, are not allowed to mix with others outside their own household.

Milivojevic played in Palace’s 2-0 win over Sheffield United on Saturday after testing negative for the novel coronavirus.

“I know about it and obviously we condemn it,” Hodgson told reporters after the game. “We’re upset, it doesn’t do the image of the club or Luka any good… We know he didn’t put the other team at risk because he’s been cleared by the Premier League to play.”

“But it’s not a question of risks here on this football pitch, the risks come when people break government guidelines.”

“This is a breach of government guidelines, which we didn’t want to happen, But for that to impact on him playing and the captaincy? No.”

Mitrovic’s Fulham, whose games against Tottenham Hotspur and Burnley were postponed due to COVID-19 cases within their camp, said they were investigating the matter and would deal with it internally.

“The player is aware of the club’s disappointment and of the standards that are expected of him,” British media quoted Fulham as saying in a statement.

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