Chelsea: Emma Hayes blames Champions League exit on Covid-19 & urges fixture postponement

Chelsea Women

Chelsea boss Emma Hayes has admitted her side were “sick” with worry about Covid-19 in the build-up to their Women’s Champions League game against Wolfsburg.

Last year’s finalists needed just a draw to progress to the next round, but were beaten 4-0 by the German side, which saw them crash out in the group stage.

Svenja Huth scored two first-half goals for the home team before the break, before a Tabea Wasmuth double rounded off an emphatic win for the two-time European champions.

First-choice keeper Ann-Katrin Berger and midfielder Drew Spence tested positive for coronavirus ahead of the final group game and Hayes said her players were not in the right mindset for the match.

“Our heads were all over the place, we are human beings,” Hayes said.



“A few days ago we had two players struck down with Covid, we know inevitably that when we land tomorrow there will be positive cases [when players are again tested].

“When you are in a team environment, you know it spreads like wildfire in the team. I’m gutted for the players because we know that was nowhere near a team that represents my team.”

While Hayes took responsibility for the loss, she stressed that the situation “has been really difficult to manage” and pointed out that this feels like “deja vu” 12 months on from an outbreak at a similar time.

“I have players being sick in there, they have got diarrhoea, they are exhausted and maybe some of that mental anxiety plays a part in it.

“I just feel that this was deja vu and we are here 12 months after a really bad Covid outbreak at the same time.”

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson recently announced a series of new measures to deal with the threat of the rapidly spreading omicron variant.

People have been advised to work from home where possible and face coverings are compulsory in most indoor public venues.


Many football clubs across the UK have called for a postponement of fixtures to help manage the growing number of cases among teams and the Blues boss emphasised that her players are not paid the same amount as male footballers.

“We do not get paid millions of pounds, I want my players to go and see their families.

“It’s across the game at the moment. For me it’s a major reason behind the performance tonight.

“You are a player and you don’t want to go to the dining room, don’t want to sit with team-mates and you don’t want to go in the dressing room. It’s a team sport, you have got to be together but you don’t want to be together because you don’t want to get it off anyone and you don’t want to pass it on to anyone.

“It’s quiet, it’s sombre. It feels like you are sitting in a waiting room for something to happen. That is really difficult to switch from to go and perform.”

Chelsea Women

Chelsea won the Women’s FA Cup just a fortnight ago –– rounding off an impressive domestic treble, but the side have since suffered defeats against Reading in the WSL and now Wolfsburg.

The Blues are now four points behind Arsenal in the league and out of Europe before Christmas.

“I can honestly tell you that I didn’t recognise my team tonight, I’ve never seen a performance like that from them,” Hayes said.

While there is still time to recover in the league, a season that promised so much may well dissolve into an anti-climax.

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