Of course it’s important for players to stay safe any every precaution needs to be taken to keep them safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, but we are seeing some mixed messages.
Players are practicing social distancing on the bench and are encouraged to touch elbows rather than high five, but that routinely goes out the window when an important goal is scored and the players hug each other.
On top of that, there are numerous players in close proximity for set-pieces multiple times in a game.
Football is a contact sport and it’s inevitable that players are going to be close to each other for seconds at a time – particularly set pieces – so the precautions seem to be a bit needless when they are do easily broken on the pitch.
What the players need is regular testing and medical care if they do catch the virus, not advice on token gestures.
A report from The Sun has provided the latest bizarre claim, with a professor suggesting that Celtic should ditch the huddle due to the danger of the virus spreading if one player has it.
Professor Hugh Pennington of Aberdeen University said the following about the huddle:
“I don’t know what players are doing when they are not around the club but if they are getting on with their everyday lives, the potential for infection is very real.”
“Performing the Huddle, there is the obvious risk an infected player could be transmitting the virus to other players.”
“Half of the players could go down with it, so they could be off their work ill for a while.”
“But the fact that someone is shouting during the routine is also very bad for the other players. For the virus, it is very good.”
In a way you can get his point, but if a player has the virus before stepping onto the field, then it’s likely to be transmitted to various players during the game, so avoiding the huddle isn’t going to make that much difference.