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Connolly and Idah miss Slovakia game for sitting too close to Covid-positive FAI staff member on flight

The players were found to be sitting 10 and 30 centimetres too close to the member of staff, and an FAI appeal to the HSE was unsuccessful.

A view of the stadium in Bratislava.
A view of the stadium in Bratislava.
Image: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Updated Oct 8th 2020, 11:01 PM

Updated at 23.02

AARON CONNOLLY AND Adam Idah were forced to withdraw from Ireland’s Euro 2020 playoff as they were deemed close contacts to a member of the FAI backroom staff who tested positive for Covid-19 last night. 

The FAI confirmed a member of staff tested positive for the virus yesterday. The staff member is asymptomatic and doing well, but is isolating at the team hotel and will have to travel home separately to the team.

Connolly and Idah were deemed as close contacts, and forced to withdraw from the matchday squad this morning. 

The players were sitting 1.7 metres and 1.9 metres respectively from the Covid-positive member of staff on the flight over, slightly short of the two metres mandated by the Irish public health guidelines. 

Given the HSE say a close contact is deemed as being within two metres of a Covid-positive for more than two hours, the players were forced to self-isolate and thus miss the game. 

The FAI appealed today to the HSE to no avail. 

Stephen Kenny confirmed so in his post-match interview on Sky Sports, speaking after Ireland were cruelly beaten 4-2 on penalties after a 0-0 draw over 120 minutes.  

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“We have different rules in Ireland than in the UK”, said Kenny. “Ours are much more stringent and they would be deemed close contacts. It was very, very harsh they were ruled out.

“The lads are perfectly fine, there is nothing wrong with them. The two-metre rule is in Ireland but is not in the UK. If  they were in the UK they would have been perfectly entitled to play, but Ireland has more stringent rules and we had to abide by the rules.”

“That’s the way it goes we can’t do anything about it.”

Slovakia were also hit by the virus, with defender Milan Skriniar out following a positive test and midfielder Stanislav Lobotka quarantining with his club in Napoli following an outbreak of cases among the squad. 

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Gavin Cooney

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