Norwich City have announced that one of their players has tested positive for COVID-19 in the latest round of Corona Virus tests carried out by the Premier League. A result which at this stage means he will most likely miss the Southampton game. The player did apparently take part in the friendly at Spurs on Friday but whether it is an established first team player or an Academy youngster, we just don’t know.
The club announced the news late on Saturday night in the following statement:
“Norwich City can confirm that one of its players has returned a positive test result following the recent round of COVID-19 testing.
In line with the Premier League’s protocols, the player will now self-isolate for a period of seven days before being tested again at a later date. The player must return a negative test result before being able to resume training.
The club will not name the player in question and asks that his request for privacy and confidentiality are respected at this time.”
Let’s consider a hypothetical scenario where the player who has tested positive is Teemu Pukki. You could just as easily change the name to any of our other big players, like Tim Krul, Todd Cantwell, Alex Tettey or Ben Godfrey. Imagine that one of these players or perhaps two or three of them contract the virus and despite (fingers crossed) not having symptoms or any ill health issues, that they test positive on Thursday or Friday next week.
I know the above scenario is unlikely, at least that’s what we’re told about the testing and social distancing being practiced in the Premier League but these guys are around each other a lot. The Government define close contact for the purposes of their Track and Trace programme as being “within two metres of an infected person for fifteen minutes or more.” Research has apparently shown that despite football being a contact game, during a 90 minute match, 98 percent of the time, on-pitch interactions between players lasted less than five minutes in total.
“Integrity of the League” was a term bandied about by many in the upper echelons of football when Project Re-Start was first being discussed, but would a club like Norwich be allowed to cancel a game if three of our most important players tested positive at the same time? There will be some who will say that all of those same players could pick up an injury at the same time, so “use your squad.”
I do understand that point of view but the difference is that a tweaked ankle ligament or a dead-leg, despite it’s name, will not kill you. COVID-19 just might, even if you’re a super fit athlete like these guys are.
Football is pushing ahead, whatever the cost may be and money continues to talk louder than common sense, it seems.