LONDON (AP) — England players Phil Foden and Mason Greenwood were sent home and dropped for Tuesday's game against Denmark after breaching coronavirus rules in Iceland.
Social media video was published in Reykjavik purporting to show the players meeting women from outside the team bubble after they made their England debuts in the 1-0 victory against Iceland in the Nations League on Saturday.
The English Football Association said the 18-year-old Greenwood and 20-year-old Foden apologized for the “serious lack of judgement" and would return home rather than travel to Copenhagen with the rest of the squad.
“Unfortunately this morning it was brought to my attention that two of the boys have broken the COVID guidelines in terms of our secure bubble,” England coach Gareth Southgate said on Monday. “So we had to decide very quickly that they couldn’t have any interaction with the rest of the team and and wouldn’t be able to travel to training.”
The players did not leave the team hotel but still breached the protocols that have been put in place to ensure national teams could play their first international matches since the pandemic was declared in March.
“They have been naive,” Southgate said. “We are very clear that no other members of our party have been in contact with those two players. That’s why they couldn’t go to breakfast this morning or join us for training. We are very clear we have followed all the guidelines in that regard."
The England traveling group, which is regularly tested for COVID-19, was exempt from the Icelandic requirements to quarantine for five days on arrival.
“The FA will be launching a full investigation into the circumstances leading up this breach," the governing body said. "We have spoken to the Football Association of Iceland to offer our apologies for this incident and to ensure them that we are taking the appropriate steps.
“We have also assured the Danish Football Union that all other players and staff members have been isolated within our group throughout this period."
Both players will return to their clubs in Manchester.
Manchester United said it was “disappointed” by Greenwood’s conduct.
Foden's conduct was branded “totally inappropriate” by his club, Manchester City.
“His behavior not only directly contravenes strict guidelines related to COVID-19, but also falls well below the standard expected of a Manchester City player and England international,” City said in a statement. “The club supports the FA regarding this incident, and officials from the club are now in touch in relation to Phil’s enforced early return to the U.K.”
The need for players to limit the risk of being infected was highlighted on Monday by City also announcing that two players — Riyad Mahrez and Aymeric Laporte — tested positive for the coronavirus.
The players have not displayed any symptoms and are in self-isolation two weeks before City starts its season against Wolverhampton Wanderers on Sept. 21.