Roy Hodgson believes Eberechi Eze showed “naivety” when he became the latest footballer to breach coronavirus protocols but the Crystal Palace playmaker is free to face Arsenal on Thursday after being fined.
The 22-year-old attended his former club Queens Park Rangers’ FA Cup tie with Fulham on Saturday and failed to wear a mask at all times. Eze was also pictured with only one seat between him and another person in the directors’ box.
“When he realised what he did – naively I must point out and without any malice – he was full of remorse, regret and wanted to take responsibility and apologise to everybody,” Hodgson said.
“Do I think the foolish thing Eberechi did merits that he should be left out of the team and punished in that way? I don’t. I don’t think what he did would merit that type of punishment, but it does merit a fine because a slap on the wrist isn’t really enough.”
Palace were unaware Eze planned to attend the match and QPR have conceded they made an error in accepting Eze’s request to watch.
“We are very upset and a bit disappointed too he wasn’t stopped from going and I know QPR have done well in that respect,” Palace’s manager said. “They have taken responsibility because had we known he planned to do that, we would have stopped it. He has apologised and will learn a harsh lesson from it.”
The incident occurred a week after Palace’s captain Luka Milivojevic was fined for mixing with Aleksandar Mitrovic and the Fulham player’s family on New Year’s Eve.