Manchester City investigating Benjamin Mendy’s controversial New Year’s Eve Party as Pep Guardiola calls for people not to judge the defender as many broke coronavirus restrictions to ring in 2021 last week
- Benjamin Mendy admitted to breaking Covid-19 rules in a New Year’s Eve party
- The Manchester City defender invited two guests and a chef to his £5m mansion
- Pep Guardiola admitted Mendy was wrong to do it and will not try to justify it
- The City boss did claim Mendy broke rules along with many others last week
Manchester City are investigating Benjamin Mendy’s controversial New Year’s party as Premier League clubs prepare to lay down the law amid a spate of Covid-19 rule breaches.
Pep Guardiola last night launched a passionate defence of his underfire defender’s character after Mendy became the latest in a growing list high-profile footballers to be caught breaking Government regulations by celebrating during the festive period.
Mendy held a New Year’s Eve party which included guests outside his household. The mixing of different households indoors is banned under the Government’s tier four restrictions.
Manchester City are investigating Benjamin Mendy’s (above) controversial New Year’s party
Mendy (left) admitted breaking lockdown rules by throwing a New Year’s Eve party
A spokesman for Mendy said: ‘Benjamin and his partner allowed a chef and two friends of his partner to attend his property for a dinner party on New Year’s Eve.
‘Ben accepts that this is a breach of Covid-19 protocols and is sorry for his actions in this matter. Ben has had a Covid test and is liaising with Manchester City about this.’
In confirming their internal probe, a spokesman for City said: ‘While it is understood that elements of this incident have been misinterpreted in the reports, and that the player has publicly apologised for his error, the club is disappointed to learn of the transgression and will be conducting an internal investigation.’
Mendy, after providing a negative test, was included on the substitutes bench fro City’s win at Chelsea yesterday.
But while Guardiola acknowledged the France defender’s wrong-doing, he refused to throw Mendy under the bus.
The Man City defender invited two non-household guests and a chef to his £5million mansion
The City boss said: ‘Benjamin already had Covid in the past, he has been tested everyday like all the other players.
‘He has explained, he knows what he has done and he will learn in the future.
‘He is part of the group, he is one of the guys who is much beloved in our group. In the stands today he was the most active players.
‘He is a special guy for us and has an incredible heart. I would like to see how many people will now judge him and see if they have the good intentions that he has.
‘But he has to understand some things. I would like to know how many people did this on New Years Eve, but normally in this society we judge the others when first we should judge ourselves.
‘I’m not justifying it – he broke the rules. But don’t give too many lessons to the others.’
Man City’s Pep Guardiola says Benjamin Mendy did what other people did on New Year’s Eve
When asked whether the high-profile nature of football should mean players live by more stringent rules, Guardiola added: ‘I don’t agree with this.
‘We only do our job. But I don’t think footballers are more important than a doctor, or NHS workers, an architect or a teacher at school for my kids.
‘Why are we more important than the others? We have the same responsibility than any other person in the world and the UK.
‘But of course we have to follow the rules because the virus is here.’
Guardiola claims footballers should not be treated in a special light compared to others
Mendy’s party came just a few days after Manchester City’s clash against Everton was postponed after the Etihad club reported five positive Covid tests.
But Mendy is just one of a host of top-flight players accused of disregarding Covid regulations during the festive period.
A photo including Tottenham players Sergio Reguilon, Giovani Lo Celso and Erik Lamela and West Ham star Manuel Lanzini at a gathering appeared on social media over the weekend.
Images of Fulham striker Aleksandr Mitrovic and Crystal Palace midfielder Luka Milivojevic celebrating together also emerged. All clubs involved have condemned their players for flouting regulations.
Tottenham manager Jose Mourinho called the decision to postpone his team’s clash against Fulham just three hours before kick off last week following an outbreak at the Craven Cottage club as ‘unprofessional’.
Tottenham stars Sergio Reguilon, Erik Lamela, Giovani Lo Celso and West Ham’s Manuel Lanzini are believed to have broken Covid-19 rules by spending Christmas together
The irony of three Tottenham players breaking Covid restrictions has not gone unnoticed by members of the Premier League’s hierarchy.
Top flight clubs will this week reinforce to players the importance of strictly following Covid protocols away from matches and training to prevent further embarrassing cases.
The majority of clubs want the season to be completed as normal, knowing any curtailment could have a fatal financial impact on their futures.
Team bosses are growing increasingly concerned that any more postponed fixtures will cause a hugely problematic fixture backlog – and increase public pressure for football to be placed into another total lockdown, a prospect the Premier League want to avoid.
Crystal Palace captain Luka Miliovojevic (left) was seen breaking Covid rules at a New Year’s Eve party with Fulham’s Aleksandar Mitrovic (right)
And clubs will stress to their staff this week the need to show total discipline away from their football duties so not to jeopardise the fulfilment of their fixtures.
The Premier League have already written to clubs, doubling-down on ensuring they strictly follow the protocols following an increase in positive tests in recent weeks.
But the top-flight’s rules only encompass training and match-related days – with off-the-pitch protocols having to be reinforced by the club.
Prior to the festive period, clubs warned squads to refrain from holding parties to avoid the public backlash if they were to be caught.
But one source told Sportsmail: ‘Backroom staff know they can’t stop players from mixing with others away from the training ground – but we are stressing to them to take every precaution not to get caught.’
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