Manchester City are poised to take disciplinary action against their French defender Benjamin Mendy after he admitted to hosting a New Year’s Eve party with guests from outside his household – a direct breach of Covid-19 rules.
The mixing of households is currently outlawed in several regions in the United Kingdom amid its ‘Tier 4’ protocols designed to inhibit the spread of the coronavirus but the 26-year-old is understood to have disregarded the rules to allow two friends of his partner, as well as a private chef, onto their premises for some end-of-year revelry.
The timing, and the negative press associated with it, couldn’t have come at a much worse time for Pep Guardiola’s side. An Covid-19 outbreak at the Manchester club led to the postponement of a scheduled match with Everton on December 28 just days after it was confirmed that first-team players Gabriel Jesus and Kyle Walker had returned positive tests.
Spanish defender Eric Garcia has since become the sixth Manchester City player or staff member to contract the virus, and facing further Covid headaches due to quarantine and close-contact regulations, Guardiola is expected to be without several key players for Sunday’s trip to Chelsea and beyond.
And as such, the club have expressed their dismay at Mendy’s infraction.
“While it is understood that elements of this incident have been misinterpreted in the reports [carried by newspapers earlier], and that the player has publicly apologized for his error, the club is disappointed to learn of the transgression and will conduct an internal investigation,“ Manchester City said in a statement.
Mendy, who now faces another spell on the sidelines after having returned to first-team contention after two serious knee injuries, held his hands up in a statement issued by his representatives.
“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,” a spokesperson said.
“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.”
The impact of the coronavirus has hit Manchester City more than most clubs in the Premier League, even if some of the headlines have been somewhat self-inflicted.
England defender Kyle Walker was the subject of his club’s wrath in the early days of the pandemic for allegedly hosting what was described as a ‘sex party’ during the UK’s first lockdown, while academy product Phil Foden was also disciplined for a breach of coronavirus protocols when he and Manchester United teenager Mason Greenwood invited two local women into their hotel room following a Nations League win in Iceland in September.