Asked to resist temptation and act sensibly, it’s been a bad few weeks for some footballers trying to avoid disgrace while games are suspended. Here are a few of the shocking incidents sparked by stars left to their own devices.
While most players are in danger of breaking the rules by going outside, Kyle Walker – or Kai, as he allegedly introduced himself to one of the call girls who took a taxi to his home – strayed in inglorious fashion by throwing a steamy four-person sex party at his plush home.
The Premier League winner was a regular for England at the 2018 World Cup but may never play for his country again after disgracing himself by inviting a student and a Brazilian hooker to join him and a mate at his luxury rented apartment in Cheshire, where one of his guests took photos of the full back in his underpants after the visiting hookers had been paid around $2,700 for turning up.
The sordid late-night session came days after Walker had told his following of almost 2 million on Instagram to abide by government guidelines, and he repeated his message on Twitter hours after the party ended, encouraging fans to “check in on loved ones” rather than meeting them in person.
Walker, who will become a father for a fourth time after impregnating a model and splitting from his long-term girlfriend earlier this year, responded by issuing a statement apologizing for “the choices I made.”
Known as a proud contrarian, the unorthodox Mourinho would have been priced at short odds had bookmakers been asked to draw up a list of coaches least likely to adhere to the rules during quarantine.
Opting against following compatriot Cristiano Ronaldo by returning to Portugal during the lockdown, the former Champions League winner bafflingly chose a north London park in which to hold a not-so-private training session featuring $66 million summer signing Tanguy Ndombele and $51 million Colombia international Davinson Sanchez.
England youth prospect Ryan Sessegnon was spotted running alongside Sanchez, breaching the social distancing rules that are critical to curbing the spread of the virus.
The get-together reinforced poor public perceptions of Spurs, whose chairman, Daniel Levy, was heavily criticized for announcing that last season’s Champions League finalists would be claiming government help to pay non-playing staff on the same day that club accounts revealed he had picked up millions of dollars in pay and bonuses over the previous financial year.
“I accept that my actions were not in line with government protocol and we must only have contact with members of our own household,” said Mourinho, while Spurs also pledged to remind their squad of their responsibilities.
“It is vital we all play our part and follow government advice in order to support our heroes in the NHS and save lives.”
North London settings seem to be honeypots for footballers in the capital desperate to see their fellow pros for a workout during lockdown.
England midfielder Mount would be a dream 5-a-side pick for most amateur players, but they might not expect to see him lacing up his luminous astro boots and heading to an enclosed public pitch for a kickabout, as he did for a game with Hammers pal Rice.
The UK was days away from lockdown at the time, but Chelsea players were meant to be keeping their distance after Callum Hudson-Odoi became one of the first high-profile players to test positive for coronavirus, and West Ham coach David Moyes had already been in self-isolation because of his close contact with Arsenal counterpart Mikel Arteta, who was the first big-name manager to contract the disease.
Mount was rumored to have received a dressing down from Chelsea after the incident, although he was safely indoors a few days later when he was filmed playing keep-up with a toilet roll as part of a video series involving several (separated) Blues stars.
The 21-year-old showed a touch of flair during the footage, flicking the roll into a nearby rubbish basket in a move he declared was “top bins.”
Perhaps the most widely scorned of any player to ignore the boundaries to date, star Aston Villa man Grealish is another player for whom words seem to bear little relevance to action.
Apparently forgetting a social media post in which he had told his then-admirers to stick to the safety guidelines just hours earlier, Grealish was reportedly joined by two fellow Premier League players in a visit to the home of former Villa striker Ross McCormack, where the group were reported to have spent a late night playing video games and drinking.
Worse was to come when pictures soon emerged of a dishevelled-looking Grealish arriving home the following morning, when he is thought to have crashed his car into other vehicles while attempting to park.
One national newspaper branded the England hopeful “brainless” and warned that he could have blown his hopes of becoming an international, while Villa were said to have fined their captain around $183,000.
In a video watched almost three million times, Grealish claimed he was “deeply embarrassed” at a “tough time” for the public. “I got a call from a friend asking to go round to his,” the midfielder solemnly explained. “I don’t want anyone to make the same mistake.”
New Zealanders Payne and Sail broke out of a self-isolation camp in sozzled style, escaping from Phoenix’s remote Sydney facility, where the players had been expected to stay for 14 days as part of quarantine regulations, and setting off on a golf buggy following a drinking session with teammates.
Payne, who has made 17 appearances for his country and was a member of Blackburn’s squad when they were in the Premier League, confirmed the pair were facing sanctions from their club and the footballing authorities after the shameful joyride during the strict lockdown that has been enforced in New Zealand.
In a tearful apology, the full back said he was “incredibly sorry” and “incredibly embarrassed.”“I take full responsibility for my actions and for what unfolded on that night,” he told Radio Sport.
“I’ve let so many people down, including my partner, my family, the club as a whole and individuals such as Uffie [coach Ufuk Talay], who has given me the chance this season.”
A statement from the club, where one staff member has tested positive for Covid-19, rejected reports that a member of the public was involved and Payne was arrested during the incident.
The crimes $64 million striker Jovic was accused of could merit a Serbian prison sentence – or at least that was the verdict of his dad, who revisited the warnings set out by the country’s leader, Aleksandar Vucic, while defending his son.
Milan Jovic insisted the snap was an old one taken in Spain after some of the Real Madrid newcomer’s critics questioned a photo in which he seemed to be celebrating his girlfriend’s birthday on the streets in a post tagged to Belgrade.
Madrid advised their players to self-isolate after a member of the club’s basketball team tested positive for coronavirus, but said Jovic had been allowed to return to Serbia for medical reasons, joining lover Sofia Milosevic.
“Are you getting arrested?” asked one comment on the happy portrait of the pair, although Jovic senior added a plot twist by pointing out that Luka’s partner could not have been cavorting outside due to her pregnancy.
So happy to share with you that we are going to have a baby???Love you ❤
Model Milosevic could not hide her delight at being reunited with the 22-year-old while La Liga is suspended. “I’m so thankful that Luka can be next to me during this period,” she wrote, revealing that she was expecting.
“I couldn’t imagine being without him during this difficult time for the whole world.”
Jovic tested negative for coronavirus in both countries and offered his support to healthcare workers and the public in Serbia, adding: “It is very unfortunate for me that some people did their job unprofessionally and did not give me the correct instructions for how to behave in self-isolation.”