Liam Jones announces AFL retirement after reportedly refusing Covid vaccine
Carlton defender Liam Jones has announced his retirement days after it was reported he had refused to get vaccinated against Covid-19.
It was reported last week that the 30-year-old, who had been contracted for the 2022 AFL season, had opted against receiving the jab as required before the club’s pre-season training commences later this month.
In a statement released on Sunday, the Blues said Jones’s decision to call time on his 12-year career was made for “personal reasons”, and the player himself did not elaborate on the motive behind his sudden announcement.
“I wish to announce my retirement from AFL football effective immediately,” Jones said in the statement. “I want to take this opportunity to thank all who have supported me throughout my journey, both personally and professionally. I love the game and I’ll miss my teammates.”
Under the AFL’s recently released vaccination schedule and the Victorian government’s mandate, players participating in the men’s competition must have had their second vaccination shot by 26 November or be barred from their respective clubs’ programs.
Carlton officially start their pre-season under new coach, Michael Voss, on 22 November, with first- to fourth-year players returning first before the rest of the senior squad joins them on 6 December.
Both the Blues and the AFL declined to comment last week when it was reported a player had refused to be vaccinated , before media outlets subsequently named the player in question as Jones.
His retirement comes after dual AFLW premiership player Deni Varnhagen was moved to Adelaide’s inactive list earlier this month because of her refusal to be vaccinated against Covid.
While Varnhagen, who works as a registered nurse, was outspoken about her stance, Jones has still not confirmed his position publicly.
“I hope that people respect my decision and privacy,” Jones said on Sunday. “Neither myself or my management team will be making any further comment on the matter.”
Carlton’s head of football, Brad Lloyd, indicated Jones had been weighing up his decision for some time.
“We have been in constant dialogue with Liam in recent months and allowing him the time he needed to make an informed decision regarding his playing career,” Lloyd said.
“Liam confirmed with us today that he has made the decision to retire, and his wish for the specific reasons of that decision to be kept private. As a club, we will be respecting that.”
The Blues said they would work closely with the AFL “regarding options available to replace Jones’ spot on the list for the 2022 AFL season”.