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Bayern Munich star Joshua Kimmich sparks vaccination debate in Germany

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Joshua Kimmich will headline for Bayern Munich at rivals Moenchengladbach amid heated debate in Germany on Wednesday as the footballer revealed he opted not to be vaccinated against COVID-19. The 26-year-old is set to play for Bayern in the second round of the German Cup, but off the pitch, his decision not to be vaccinated has drawn comments from the government in Berlin. On Saturday, Kimmich revealed that he had decided against vaccination despite founding the ‘We Kick Corona’ charity last year.

“It’s not that I’m an opponent of the coronavirus or vaccination,” said Kimmich, who based his decision on “personal concerns.”

The footballer’s stance echoed that of Acting Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman, Stefan Seibert, who expects the footballer to inform himself and “give all available information about approved vaccines in the EU sync”.

Seibert urged Kimmich to get vaccinated because the Bayern star is “a man that “millions look up to” as a role model.

Kimmich appears to be in the minority among Germany’s top-flight footballers.

Christian Seifert, managing director of the German Football League (DFL), has said that around 94 percent of Bundesliga players have been vaccinated.

Of Germany’s population of 83 million, about 66 percent have been fully vaccinated, but Europe’s biggest economy is currently in a fourth wave, with 10,000 new cases of the coronavirus reported on Tuesday.

Since testing positive for Covid-19 last week, Bayern coach Julian Nagelsmann has been training from home and giving match instructions, where he has been quarantined.

Kimmich says he may get the vaccine in the future and teammate Thomas Mueller hopes it will happen as soon as possible.

“As a friend, it’s an absolutely acceptable decision,” Mueller said.

“As a teammate, and if you also look at what might be better for everyone … my opinion is probably that vaccination would be better.”

On Monday, Bayern president Herbert Hainer said he would be happy if Kimmich “is still vaccinated, but there is no mandatory vaccination. One has to respect the decision.”

Kimmich has drawn considerable criticism from medical experts.

“Joshua Kimmich is certainly a proven expert in football matters, but not a specialist in vaccinations and vaccines,” Thomas Mertens, chairman of Germany’s Permanent Immunization Commission (Stico), told German media.

“It’s Kimmitch’s personal decision and it should have stayed that way.”

There is some help too.

In a statement, Carsten Ramello, vice president of the Footballers’ Union VDV, said it “should be acknowledged if individual players have concerns about the side effects of vaccination and therefore hold a different opinion.”

The president of the German Ethics Council also stressed the importance of respecting Kimmich’s “private decision”.

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However, council chair Elena Bucs told Sky, “I think it’s a pity. It would be great if he used his platform to get better advice to be a role model.”

Buyx is concerned that skeptics may use his statements to “cast vaccination doubts.”

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