Tottenham: Should Covid Change National Team Participation?

Jun 18, 2018; South Korea midfielder Son Heung-min (7) Mandatory Credit: Tim Groothuis/Witters Sport via USA TODAY Sports
Jun 18, 2018; South Korea midfielder Son Heung-min (7) Mandatory Credit: Tim Groothuis/Witters Sport via USA TODAY Sports /

As the risks to Tottenham Hotspur and everyone involved in international breaks grows, one has to begin to question if we should continue them for now.

The international break is always a risky proposition for club teams as they let their most valuable assets go off to practice, play, and recover in an environment outside of their control. Under normal circumstances the risk of injury and then the subsequent loss of time is real, but now with Coronavirus also putting players at risk, knowing only two days are left in the break is good. However, pretty much every Tottenham player is scheduled to participate in the next two days, so anything can happen.

Tottenham and the Risk of Loss

The risk of losing a player even under normal circumstances during international play is very real. During the last “break” Eric Dier picked up a knock and missed time in both the Premier League and Europa League. Maybe it is just coincidence, but Spurs dropped points in both affairs Dier missed, drawing with West Ham, and losing the Royal Antwerp.

Now, Tottenham and all the clubs offering up their players are also at risk of losing players to Coronavirus. It looked like Tottenham had dodged a massive bullet when Son Heung-Min’s South Korean team came down with several cases. Fortunately for Tottenham and South Korea, Son continues to test negative and is available for club and country. Hopefully, those negative tests continue for Son.

While Son has thus far avoided infection, the same is not true of Matt Doherty who was one of two players with the Republic of Ireland to test positive and begin self-isolation. Yes, we found the silver lining with Doherty in Troy Parrott receiving a senior national team call-up, but the likely loss of Doherty for Manchester City and possibly longer could be a massive blow to Tottenham, just like the injury loss of Dier.

Should the Clubs and Players be Put at Risk?

The normal banter and risk around keeping players healthy and fit is just part and parcel of the UEFA club and country balance professional football teams play with. However, Covid has changed everything in the equation and it is likely time for clubs and countries alike to take note and look at the situation and the increasing risk it puts everyone in.

To participate in international matches, players are removed from their individual club bubbles and introduced into a larger mixed environment bubble. In other words, there really is no bubble at all. Add in players coming together all over the world from all over the world and it should come as no surprise to anyone that players are testing positive.

Sure, some might think Matt Doherty is not Harry Kane, but recently Ronaldo tested positive and the costs to Juventus on and off the field are almost impossible to calculate. Further, the outside chance that things go sideways with one of these young men and they really get sick, should make everyone involved take pause.

After a long break which clearly hammered everyone’s bottom line, by putting the top players out of their control into the new environments UEFA is putting the entire sport in Europa at risk. No one anywhere wants football to shut down again but continuing to send players out on international duty moves us all on that path. Maybe the time has come to set aside our international commitments until the virus is better under control, or all the games that feed the economic football juggernaut could come to a halt.