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Gareth Bale admits “slight concern” over Matt Doherty hug

According to Bale, Doherty is exhibiting “mild symptoms” after testing positive for COVID-19 yesterday

Wales v Republic of Ireland - UEFA Nations League Photo by Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images

Tottenham Hotspur’s Matt Doherty has tested positive for COVID-19 while on duty with Ireland and is currently in isolation. But as we saw yesterday, that’s not necessarily the worst of it — he was involved in the international match between Ireland and Wales, and came into close contact with both Ben Davies and Gareth Bale. (Joe Rodon is also on the Wales team but apparently didn’t have very close contact with Doherty).

With Bale, it was VERY close contact. The two shared a quick hug after the match was over, before Doherty’s test came back positive. That potentially puts Gareth (and to a lesser extent Ben) at a risk for contracting the virus themselves. Speaking to Sky Sports, Bale said that he has a “slight concern” about his contact with Doherty, but nothing that’s causing him too much worry, especially now that players are reporting back to their camps having tested negative.

“It’s a slight concern for everybody when you’ve been playing someone and you’re in close contact with them on the field. Maybe you’re not long enough with them to catch it, but you’re a bit wary.

“It’s good news that everyone’s come back and tested negative and now we can just concentrate on the game on Wednesday [vs. Finland].”

Doherty’s diagnosis has not, to my knowledge, been formally acknowledged by Tottenham Hotspur, but it’s public knowledge at this point. Bale noted that Doherty is in fact experiencing symptoms from the virus.

“Me and Ben have spoke to him briefly and he’s doing fine, he’s just got mild symptoms. Hopefully he recovers fine, doesn’t have any problems and will be back playing as soon as possible.

“The [Wales FA] are doing a fantastic job keeping to all the protocols. They are making sure we are doing everything right in the hotel and no one is doing anything wrong in training. They’ve done fantastic with that and we’re obviously glad that none of us have tested positive.”

As we mentioned earlier, an outdoor football match against a team with a player who is positive for COVID-19 provides a slight risk for transmission, but not as much as spending time indoors with a teammate who may be exposed. Hugging Doherty obviously puts Bale at a greater risk, but it doesn’t mean that he’s infected or needs to be quarantined; Bale’s status as a “protected athlete” means he doesn’t automatically have to go into quarantine, and as long as he continues to socially distance himself and test negative, he’s likely going to be okay.

If Doherty is experiencing symptoms, it means a) he’s obviously not asymptomatic, but b) likely means now he’ll also miss the Europa League match against Ludogorets in London next week. Hopefully he recovers quickly and will be okay as soon as possible, and that this isn’t a harbinger of further positive cases at Spurs in the near future.