Gunner Thoughts

International travel causing problems? Go figure.

It feels like a rant is brewing inside of me that needs to come out, but it’s one you have maybe heard by now.

Yesterday, news broke that Scottish international Stuart Armstrong tested positive while on international duty with Scotland. Due to close quarters and close contact, teammates Kieran Tierney and Ryan Christie, along with one physiotherapist and one masseur, have also been identified as people that will now self-isolate for 14 days. This identification comes from the Lothian Health Protection Team in Scotland and the Scottish FA.

In a statement from Arsenal on the matter, they say:

As a consequence, our defender Kieran Tierney and Celtic player Ryan Christie – along with one physiotherapist and one masseur – have been advised they will require to self-isolate for 14 days as of yesterday (Tuesday, October 8).

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.

Kieran has also been in touch and has said: “I’m so disappointed and frustrated to be in this situation. I have adhered to all regulations and made sure I was socially distancing from my team mates 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.”

Arsenal on the matter of Tierney’s self-isolation

Additionally, Charles Watts tweeted confirmation that Tierney had 3 negative COVID-19 tests, including one taken after Armstrong’s positive result, although he openly acknowledges to have been social distant with Armstrong from within the same hotel room.

Arsenal are seeking further consultation about their options because this isolation period would mean Tierney misses the upcoming match against Manchester City at The Ethiad on 17/10.

Now by all accounts, Scotland as a country are taking very strict and precautious measures to play their part in the curtailing of Covid’s spread. To be honest, more people and major nations should be doing the same. And on today, of all days, that has never been more evident.

Tierney, Armstrong, and Christie are not the only players tied up in this similar situation Today news of Inter Milan’s Milan Škriniar also testing positive surfaced, as well as, the entirety of Arsenal’s Hale End being forced to close after a senior member of the academy staff travelled aboard and returned to Hale End before receiving the results of is test that came back positive.

Couple this with the recent positive test results of Thiago Alacantra, Sadio Mane last week, and fellow teammate Shaqiri who tested positive today and a worrisome trend is forming.

I understand that given how easy it is to contract and spread this disease, some degree of this was likely inevitable. If there is a second wave coming, or we are in the midst of it, players contracting Covid was likely a matter of time. But if it was a matter of time, why is the world of football and its governing bodies not doing everything it can to prolong and prevent this?

It’s evident that people are becoming a tad bit complacent, and not just in the footballing world. It’s likely a bit of human nature to want to return, sooner rather than later, to the uninhibited lifestyle that wasn’t dictated by precautionary measures and restrictions, but showing up without test results, traveling abroad and not taking the precautionary measures, these feel like situations that wouldn’t have happened a few months ago when people were on high alert.

But this situation is hardly the root of the problem for footballers. Football is being played — whether it should be or not could be a separate debate — and within the small bubble of club competitions, there remains some degree of control that makes completing this season uninterrupted a real possibility. What ruins that control? Throwing international travel into the mix and disrupting everything you set out to create!

I love that Bukayo Saka, Maitland-Niles, Tierney, and new addition Thomas Partey are good enough to represent their countries. That they have the ability consider themselves among the best. But an international friendly, with international travel, for a match that means next to nothing is not a risk worth taking. Why are they even on the schedule at this point?

I understand there are matches to be played, I understand there are Euros to prepare for and similar competitions around the world, I understand these are opportunities for young men to represent their country in a fashion many have dreamed about their whole life. But not now. Not in this climate. Not with this risk. Not with these potential costs.

We aren’t just talking about them missing club matches within their season. That hurts and missing the likes of Tierney for the Manchester City match would be very difficult. We are talking about exposing these young athletes and humans to a virus we know very little about when it comes to long term effects and that is just NOT worth it, much less for an international friendly.

So, I’m not surprised positive tests are cropping up and I wont be surprised when it continues, but ending these foolish international friendlies should be top of the to-do list.

From an Arsenal perspective, we will wait to see what the decision is surrounding Kieran Tierney and how Arteta reacts to it. A big game against Manchester City next.

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