Fans have reacted with shock, derision and support on social media after Liverpool defender Dejan Lovren lashed out at a post by Bill Gates in support of health workers and endorsed David Icke’s controversial views on COVID-19.
Long-serving centre-back Lovren backed claims that the pandemic has been manufactured as a means of forcing the world to accept a vaccine, sounding a warning in response to a post by billionaire Gates, who theorists believe is behind a dastardly population control plan.
Gates, who has pledged some of his vast wealth towards the scientific search for a vaccine and medical aid efforts worldwide, posted a photo of himself holding a sign thanking healthcare workers. Lovren fired back: “Game over, Bill. People are not blind.”
The Champions League winner proceeded to post his support for controversial author, broadcaster and former footballer David Icke, who has been banned by YouTube for insisting that the virus is part of the new 5G communications network and will lead to the global population being microchipped.
Fans offered their backing and dismay after learning that Lovren, who overlaid an interview involving Icke with slogans including “we will not be silenced”, had become the highest-profile footballer to publicly promote the idea that the deadly virus is a key part of a sinister plot.
“Lovren can’t defend on a pitch, let alone with a conspiracy theory,” wrote one, while others called the 30-year-old Croatia regular “brain-dead on and off the pitch” and a “moron”, calling for him to be shown the door by the Premier League title-chasers.
“Still second on his list of unbelievable theories, after being ‘one of the best defenders in the world'”, added a critic, referring to comments made by Lovren after he had helped his nation beat England to reach the 2018 World Cup final.
Others were more impressed, applauding Lovren for voicing his contentious opinions and encouraging him to continue spreading his ideas to his following of more than 2.6 million on Instagram.
“He’s saying he agrees it should be a personal choice,” suggested one supporter, while another replied: “One cannot believe everything the government says. After all, they always lie about making life better for us.”
Lovren is the latest sports star to suggest that the virus is the result of a government conspiracy.
Boxer Amir Khan has told fans to watch videos and consider the idea that the roll-out of 5G towers is the reason why hundreds of thousands of people around the world have fallen sick, and Russian tennis hero Marat Safin echoed the claim that the pandemic would lead to the mass implanting of microchips into humans.
Enraged UFC star Michael Bisping accused people who posted theories on Twitter of accelerating the grim death toll, and football pundit Gary Lineker likened the 5G connection to the idea that the earth is flat.
After reading Lovren’s latest views, former England striker Lineker quipped: “Better cancel all vaccine testing and trials immediately, then.”
Croatian politician Ivan Pernar, who initially won support from Lovren when he posted a cartoon of Bill Gates holding a syringe alongside an anti-vaccine message, voiced his approval that the player had “sided with David Icke”.
An enthusiastic backer of the surprise announcement by tennis champion Novak Djokovic that he is suspicious of vaccines, Pernar sees himself as “a thorn in the eye of all mainstream media and their sponsors”, calling Lovren a “legend” and writing: “Let’s bite the haters.”
Lovren told Pernar: “Everyone is entitled to their opinion and no-one will ever silence me.”