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Kieran Tierney and Arsenal Threaten to Make a Mockery of Close Contact Football Rules

Stadium Seats with CrossesIt’s becoming increasingly frustrating for many parts of the world, but let’s face it: seven months into the outbreak we all know the rules of engagement by now.

But football, as it tends to do to itself at any given moment, is threatening to attract more negative attention after seeming to imply that the coronavirus rules don’t apply to the beautiful game.

That’s not to suggest that Arsenal’s Kieran Tierney is alone in showing contempt for the clear restrictions put in place, but he like other sportsmen and women seems to be tone deaf in his appeals for leniency.

Tierney has for the past week or so been on international duty with Scotland, and at their Glasgow training camp last Tuesday teammate Stuart Armstrong tested positive for COVID-19.

No problem, you might think, but Tierney and Ryan Christie were both identified as players that had come into contact with Armstrong, and so they were ordered to self-isolate for 14 days – that would have made the left back unavailable for the Gunners’ game against Manchester City on Saturday.

But Arsenal are appealing the decision, with Tierney claiming that he was socially distanced from Armstrong at all times while they played computer games against one another – the left back even claims to have photographic evidence to prove that he was sat at least 2.8 metres away from the Southampton midfielder at all times.

A statement from the club read:

“Our medical team have confirmed that Kieran was socially distant at all times from the player who tested positive and has broken no rules regarding Covid-19 protocols. We are currently seeking further advice and clarification of the details.”

The Scottish Football Association has expressed sympathy for the 23-year-old’s cause, however they have indicated that the government’s rules take precedence.

“I’m so disappointed and frustrated to be in this situation,” Tierney said.

“I have adhered to all regulations and made sure I was socially distancing from my teammates in the hotel. I’ve also tested negative. I know Arsenal and the SFA are now in discussions with the Scottish authorities to gain a further understanding.”

Should International Games Be Cancelled During the Pandemic?

Airport Check-In Sign

It goes without saying that international travel during a viral pandemic is probably not a good idea where it can be avoided.

But football is not a sport known for its sage decision-makers, and so the show must go on as far as the fairly pointless UEFA Nations League, and other meaningless friendlies, are concerned.

Club managers have every right to be frustrated that their stars are flying to far-flung locations around the globe, and the number of players that have tested positive for COVID-19 during the past fortnight or so is alarming.

Cristiano Ronaldo is the highest profile star that now faces 14 days in isolation, and he will be joined on the sidelines by:

  • Naby Keita (Liverpool)
  • Xherdan Shaqiri (Liverpool)
  • Stuart Armstrong (Southampton)
  • Nir Bitton (Celtic)
  • Odsonne Edouard (Celtic)
  • Hatem Elhamed (Celtic)
  • Weston McKennie (Juventus)
  • Matteo Guendouzi (Hertha Berlin)

Some clubs have taken matters into their own hands. Red Bull Salzburg have banned all of their players from representing their countries for the foreseeable future, while Ajax prohibited four of their African stars from playing for their respective nations as they would have to self-isolate on their return to the Netherlands.

Will any English clubs follow that lead in the future?