Michael Zorc has admonished Jadon Sancho for breaching coronavirus rules, but the Borussia Dortmund sporting director wants criticism of the forward to cease as he praised his George Floyd demonstration.
In photographs published by Bild on Wednesday, Sancho was one of six Dortmund players not wearing a mask while they received haircuts from barber Winnie Nana Karkari at their homes.
That led to a reproach from Zorc, given the German Football League’s (DFL) coronavirus protocol says players should have no contact with the public, remain at home and receive no visitors because of the pandemic.
However, Zorc also thinks Sancho’s act at the weekend – when he revealed a “justice for George Floyd” t-shirt after scoring against Paderborn – should earn him greater respect.
On the same day the haircut photos were revealed, the German Football Association (DFB) said it would not punish Sancho and others for “actions of anti-racism”, which came after Floyd died in police custody in the United States last week.
“I think it’s splendid that the DFB president who sits at the very top wonders about this matter, is flexible and takes current events into consideration,” Zorc told reporters.
“I don’t know in what terms you can look at what the guys did as a political message. It was about humanity, justice and a clear message against racism. How many campaigns have we done together with DFB on this matter?
“Maybe it’s about time to put away the criticism which Jadon Sancho often receives, as he was one of the first who have actually made a stand and showed a clear sign against racism in the match against Paderborn.”
In the Bild report, it was also suggested Sancho flew back to England earlier in the lockdown period.
He only came off the bench in Dortmund’s first three games back after the break due to a calf injury before marking his return to the starting line-up with a hat-trick against Paderborn.
“To our knowledge Jadon has been in Dortmund for weeks,” Zorc added.
“I even read that we have put him into a two-week long quarantine and faked an injury. I can only say that is completely wrong.
“Jadon has had a calf injury for weeks, which is why he could not participate in training.”
On what he said to Sancho regarding the haircut, Zorc added: “We have spoken to both the hairdresser and the player.
“Both have ensured us that the measures of hygiene have been respected at all times. They even wore a protection shield and gloves, which were only taken off for the picture.
“Obviously this is not right. We have made that clear once again to the players.
“In this special situation that we are all in due to COVID-19 it is not just the duty of the coaches to keep an eye on discipline. The whole club needs to do that, this includes the board.
“We have spoken to the players in the past. Also with Jadon. We must not forget Jadon is still a very young player, testing his boundaries.
“I don’t think I’m accused of protecting him all the time, as I have sanctioned him when there have been misconducts from his side.”