Study shows how strikers are more vulnerable to Covid-19
A study carried out in Denmark claims to show how strikers are more likely to catch Covid-19 than players in other positions on the pitch.
Scientists at Aarhus University have analysed 14 matches from the Danish top flight in an attempt to calculate how players could be exposed to the virus if an opponent or team-mate had already been infected.
They found that players would be within the “infection distance” – defined as being within 1.5 metres or moving into the space vacated by the player who is infected – for an average of 88 seconds per match.
If more than one player is affected, the average time would be multiplied accordingly. For example, if two players are affected, the average exposure time would increase to two minutes and 56 seconds.
And the researchers were then able to deduce that forward players would have the highest exposure to the virus because they are most often involved in duals on the pitch.
Centre-back is the second most exposed position, followed by central midfielders, winger and full-backs in that order. Goalkeeper is considered the least at risk position.
The study also estimated that exposure to the virus would be higher if an infected player was an opponent rather than a team-mate.
For example, a left-back would be least at risk if their own goalkeeper was infected, but most at risk if the opposing right winger was carrying the virus.
The findings have been received positively in Denmark and football is scheduled to resume in the country on 28 May.
But Thomas Bull Andersen, one of the researchers, has been keen to stress that the results of their experiment are merely estimates.
“We cannot conclude whether the risk is high or low, because we do not know,” Andersen said.
“I can easily understand if the study is interpreted as uplifting, because there is a consensus that the time one is at risk of infection has a bearing on the risk of being infected.
“What we really just wanted was to provide a number that can help to qualify the discussion so that it does not become too loose.”
Earlier this week, Watford captain Troy Deeney explained his reluctance to return to training by voicing concerns about potential exposure to the virus at corners and set-pieces.
“I can’t get a haircut until mid-July, but I can go and get in a [penalty] box with 19 people and jump for a header,” said Deeney.
It was announced on Tuesday that testing of Premier League club’s players and staff returned six positive coronavirus cases, including three — two staff and one player — from Watford.