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Luka Milivojevic

Luka Milivojevic ‘entitled to a second chance’ after breaking Tier 4 rules

Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson says that Luka Milivojevic is fully entitled to a second chance after breaking Tier 4 coronavirus rules.

The Palace club captain was filmed with Fulham striker and fellow Serbian international Aleksandar Mitrovic at a London New Years Eve party, in breach of the COVID-19 rules. 

The images were taken by Kristina Janjic, Mitrovic’s partner, and were posted on her Instagram page.

Despite breaking the rules Palace’s defensive midfielder was allowed to start and captain the side in their 2-0 win over Sheffield United on 2 January.

In a press conference ahead of Crystal Palace’s FA Cup 3rd round game with Wolverhampton Wanderers tonight, Hodgson said: 

“Luka made a grave mistake and he’s taken responsibility for it. 

“He’s put out the statement which I think covers things quite well and he’s made a substantial contribution to the NHS

“He’s made a grave mistake but once again if we see it in the round, some of the things he’s done for the community, for the club, during his three-and-a-half years fully entitles him, in my opinion, to a second chance on this incident.

Milivojević released the following statement via the club on Wednesday:

“I want to publicly apologise for my actions on New Year’s Eve. As captain of Crystal Palace Football Club I am fully aware that my responsibilities go beyond football, and that in this instance, I have let the fans, the club, my manager and teammates down.

“In what is a really difficult and challenging moment for everyone, I am truly grateful that I am able to continue to do the job I love and I do not take this for granted. I am very sorry to anyone who has been made to feel angry, hurt or upset by my actions.

“I am making a donation to the local NHS service to help them continue their incredible work in our community fighting this virus.”

But the sanctions for Milivojević’s rule-breaking don’t sit right with some Palace fans. 

Terence Ford from Crystal Palace fan podcast Back of the Nest said: 

“It bothers me, and the majority of Palace fans, that he broke lockdown rules. As the captain of a club in the biggest league in the world, he should be leading by example. 

“As for the apology, it reeked of ‘I’m only sorry that I was caught’.

“I think the club and Roy were weak, Luka should have been stripped of the captaincy and made to sit out the Sheffield United game at the very least.

“Was he the only player in the country that broke the rules? No. Was he the only Palace player that broke the rules? Unlikely. But as the captain, you have to be held to a higher standard.

“Instead, a bit like Dominic Cummings, we are sent the message that a slap on the wrist is acceptable for the elite whilst the rest of us should shoulder the blame.”

But Ford doesn’t think that Premier League games should stop as they did in the first lockdown in March 2020. 

He added: “The games are an outlet for millions in a time where it is needed. As long as they’re happy to play, they should be allowed to play.”

Fulham have had two recent matches postponed as a result of positive coronavirus tests, missing out on playing Tottenham and Burnley on 30 December and 3 January respectively.

Fulham are due to play Queens Park Rangers away in the FA Cup on Saturday. 

Feature image credit: soccer.ru via Wikimedia Commons

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