With another corona winter just around the corner, football seems to have missed something. It is clear that Joshua Kimmich will be looked at differently since stating that he is not vaccinated yet, arguing worries about the consequences. This may be a fair point but does a huge disservice to football and more importantly, to society.
The news that Joshua Kimmich, currently one of Germany’s best players, has not yet been vaccinated has started a debate that is mirroring that of wider society. Yes, it is his own decision not to get jabbed and thus better protection since this pandemic is not over yet. It is nonetheless indicative of the detachment of professional football from wider society. A player of Kimmich’s status sends out a fatal signal to anyone who is against vaccination, for whatever reason. Those who are against vaccination will be jubilant as they will have a prominent face for their campaign. That there are sceptics is ok – Kimmich himself stated that he rather wait to see some longitudinal studies carried out before he gets vaccinated. He may do so but by the time there will be some results, his playing days are over – not because of his career being cut short by Corona but because he will have retired by then. Those studies take time in other words.
The chief executive of the German league, DFL, Christian Seifert has underlined that there is no obligation for players to get vaccinated but they have issued a recommendation to do so. Further, Seifert has said that Kimmich may do some serious harm to his body which may affect his future earnings, indicating that a healthy body may reap more rewards for the player. This is a simple equation but serves as a strong reminder what is at stake. Players are the centre of the spectacle and thus a crucial part of the football circus. They have to function. While this highlights the exploitative nature of the professional football, more emphasis is placed on the moral responsibility of any football player for him and his family but also for the club. Anyone who is today not vaccinated has to provide a negative test result no older than 48 hours to get into a restaurant, to board a train or plane, to attend a sports event.
Going to a restaurant may not be Kimmich’s priorities as he is probably well looked after by Bayern’s chefs. However, his coach, Julian Nagelsmann has been reported ill with another Corona infection despite being jabbed. One of Germany’s most prominent health experts and MPs, Karl Lauterbach has stated that
“It is not good that he is not vaccinated. … It would be best the jab would come sooner rather than later but unnecessary pressure should be avoided … but it would be valuable as this is very important, very symbolic.”
After more than a year without fans, it is a delight to be allowed back onto the terraces and support our teams. Most spectators adhere to the rules – they have no other choice but to be either tested, healed or vaccinated to get into the ground. This is a precious moment and the fact that not all grounds are sold out to the prescribed capacity tells observers that football may have lost some of its standing in society – the reasons will be manifold for sure. It is therefore crucial for the clubs to wow their fans back into the grounds always in mind that any irresponsibility may have severe consequences.
It is not without irony, bitter irony in fact that Joshua Kimmich – who jointly with his team mate Leon Goretzka has initiated a campaign „We kick Corona“ in which they donate money to help poorer people and countries in their struggle against Corona – mostly by getting people vaccinated – has himself not gotten his jab yet.
Eventually, Joshua Kimmich will get vaccinated but the damage is done. He has scored an own goal and served society a disservice.Good writing does not come by chance, so consider this: