West Ham’s Gilly Flaherty says players who went to Dubai should apologise


The fallout from the Dubai trip made by several Arsenal and Manchester City Women players during the WSL winter break continues with the West Ham captain, Gilly Flaherty, calling for them to apologise for their actions.

Three Arsenal players and four Manchester City players travelled to the UAE with a number of positive Covid tests stemming from the trip. Arsenal were due to play Aston Villa and City set to take on West Ham on Saturday but both matches have been called off. The FA said that both clubs had provided evidence that they did not have 14 players available for the games.

It is rare that professionals criticise each other but on Friday Flaherty, a former Arsenal player, said that “arrogance” had now crept into the women’s game. “Hopefully the girls who are involved will do the decent thing and come out and apologise,” she said to BBC.

“As much as the growth of the women’s game is brilliant now we are able to be full-time professionals and inspire the younger generation, I really don’t like the arrogance that the money and wages have brought into it. Players need to remain humble and remember how quickly it can change.”

The anger throughout the WSL – and among fans – has been palpable and the Birmingham City manager, Carla Ward, queried why some of their games had gone ahead when they had had fewer than 14 players available. Birmingham are due to play Tottenham on Sunday but have only a maximum of 12 players available.

“We are running really thin but if the FA say we have to play the game, we will go and play the game,” Ward said to the BBC. “We went to Leicester and had 12 players and 13 against Aston Villa – we requested for that game to be postponed as we had two players who hadn’t kicked a ball for a week and we were told no.

“There needs to be a rule in place that fits all. We can’t talk about a rule for Covid when Arsenal only have one positive. I think it needs looking at. The welfare of players needs to be at the forefront.”

Manchester City said on Friday that their quarter-final against Chelsea in the Continental Cup on Wednesday has been postponed too.

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