The owner of Romanian side Steaua Bucharest has sensationally announced the club will ban all players vaccinated against Covid-19 from playing.
Mr Gigi Becali – a Romanian businessman and politician – said he is not allowing vaccinated players to play anymore because they are ‘powerless’.
Becali went on to claim that people who are vaccinated against the virus die in hospitals, as opposed to those who have refused the jabs.
He also claimed players at Romanian rivals CFR Cluj and Rapid Bucuresti were struggling as a result of taking the vaccine, singling out 36-year-old winger Ciprian Deac.
‘You’re going to laugh, but I might be right. Those vaccinated lose their strength. That’s something scientific,’ he said according to Romanian journalist Emanuel Rosu.
‘Haven’t you seen it at CFR? With Rapid, the players seemed to be fainting. They slept on the ground. All vaccinated people lose their strength!
‘I also see mine, the vaccinated ones. It doesn’t affect some, but it does affect those who are older. Haven’t you seen [Ciprian] Deac? There is no more storm.’
Gigi Becali has sensationally announced Steaua Bucharest will ban all players vaccinated against Covid-19 from playing for them
Romanian businessman Becali believes players vaccinated against coronavirus are ‘powerless’
Becali also recently said Steaua Bucharest striker Claudiu Keseru can no longer play at a high level because he was vaccinated. But his latest statement has drawn a furious reaction from the country’s government.
In a statement, RO Vaccinare, the official Facebook page of the government’s national information platform on vaccination said:’Vaccinated footballers do NOT lose their strength after being vaccinated against COVID-19!
‘From a medical and scientific point of view, there are no studies that would support a singularity like the one recently promoted on Facebook accounts in Romania.
‘Vaccination against COVID-19 does not affect the performance of football players. In contrast, there are enough studies showing that going through SARS CoV-2 infection leaves long-term sequelae (Long COVID), and these can influence athletes’ performance.
‘The bottom line is simple: to stay healthy, to enjoy football, to look at those who trust science and medicine. Please inform yourself ONLY from credible, official sources!’
Romania are one of eight countries with a vaccination rate below 60 percent according to The Local, with the other consisting of Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Hungary, Slovakia, Poland and Russia.
However, their current rate of 86.52 doses per 100 population means they have the second lowest in Europe, ahead of only Bulgaria, according to Statista.
Earlier this month, the coordinator of the Romanian national vaccination campaign, Valeriu Gheorghita, confirmed nearly one million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, had expired and would therefore be destroyed.
‘We have received a total of 4,478,000 doses, and 852,356 doses have been administered. Some 3.3 mln entered the resale or donation mechanism, including the 917,800 that have expired,’ Gheorghita explained.
Begali’s comments are just the latest in what has been a career in the game littered with controversial statements.
In 2018, he triggered a sexism row after revealing Steaus Bucharest will never have a women’s team as long as he’s in charge, claiming female football is ‘against human nature’ and aligns ‘to Satan’s ideas’.
Asked on Romanian TV channel Pro X whether he would consider launching a women’s side, Becali answered ‘you can’t do things against God’s will’ before adding ‘I’ll quit football’.
‘How can a woman play football?’ he added.
‘She isn’t built for playing football. Her body isn’t made for football. It’s dangerous. The female was created to be beautiful, to attract the opposite sex.
‘We are affecting women by letting them play football or by allowing them to box. They should play handball, volleyball, basketball, but not aggressive sports.’