This article is a cautionary tale about the rumor mill and the spread of information on social media. In the wake of yesterday’s news that two Tottenham Hotspur players had tested positive for COVID-19, seemingly ruling them out of three matches including tomorrow’s at Newcastle, the identities of the COVID-positive players spread like wildfire.
The two names that seemed to come up the most were Son Heung-Min and Bryan Gil. It’s very important before we go any further to state that there’s a good reason why I did not write anything about the identities until now — because it’s completely unsourced, tabloid social media fodder that has yet to be corroborated in any way by a reputable news source. That’s crucial to keep in mind as you read the rest of this story.
Today, Yonghap News Agency, basically the AP of Korean news outlets, reported on the possibility that Son was one of the two players who had tested positive. In that report, Yonghap, citing “a local source familiar with the situation,” stated that a subsequent COVID test administered to Sonny came back NEGATIVE, seemingly clearing the way for him to play at St. James’ Park tomorrow.
Here’s the relevant paragraph, run through Google Translate.
A local source familiar with the situation told Yonhap News on the 16th (local time), “Tonight, I was contacted by the agent saying, ‘Son has tested negative and will play against Newcastle tomorrow (17th).”
That’s very good news, if true! But as I keep emphasizing on this blog, especially during the transfer window, we should always be skeptical of these kinds of reports. Yonghap is an Actual Media Organization™ and that lends this a bit more gravitas, but in that same article they also cite none other that Twitter Spurs rumor aggregator Hotspur Related as a source for the initial positive COVID test. Hotspur Related as a primary source for a Korean sports story. What a world!
Here’s what we actually know: nothing.
Or, more specifically, we know that Son Heung-Min may (or may not) have tested positive for COVID-19 after returning from international duty with Korea, and that a hypothetical subsequent test may (or may not) have returned a negative result, signifying a possible false positive. Sonny then may (or may not) have jumped on a plane for Newcastle tonight where he may (or may not) be tested one more time.
I have no idea whether we’ll ever get the full story about what happened here. I’m not sure we’re owed that as fans. COVID diagnoses are medical decisions, and those should not be under public purview unless the subjects of those decisions consent. Or, here’s Alasdair Gold, himself recently recovered from a bout of COVID, putting it much better than I have:
I get social media's need to know the names of the two Spurs players who've tested positive. However, other than also having a re-test today to confirm, it's down to them whether they want to reveal what is ultimately a medical issue. They may well do that, but it's their choice.— Alasdair Gold (@AlasdairGold) October 16, 2021
Nothing would make me happier than seeing the lineups drop tomorrow an hour before kickoff and finding Sonny’s name in the starting lineup. That’s really the only thing that matters here. Everything else is rank speculation until it’s revealed from a reliable source, and frankly, it’s none of our business anyway.