Why Tottenham could be out of Europe: Match vs. Rennes won’t be played after COVID outbreak

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Tottenham’s Europa Conference League fixture with Rennes won’t be rescheduled, UEFA has confirmed, with the matter now having been referred to the Control, Ethics and Disciplinary Body.

Eight Spurs players and five members of staff tested positive for coronavirus in the build-up to the match with the Ligue 1 side that was due to take place on Thursday, with the fixture eventually having been postponed.

The north Londoners’ Premier League clash with Brighton, that was due to take place on December 12, has also been called off and will be rescheduled for a later date.

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Spurs clash with Rennes will not be rescheduled

UEFA confirmed on Saturday that Tottenham and Rennes could not come to an agreement over a new date for their Europa Conference League match.

The case will now be decided by the organisation’s Control, Ethics and Disciplinary Body.

A statement read: “Following a Covid-19 outbreak in the team of Tottenham Hotspur FC ahead of the UEFA Europa Conference League group stage match against Stade Rennais FC, scheduled to take place on 9 December 2021 in London, the match could not take place.

“In accordance with Annex J of the UEFA Europa Conference League regulations, UEFA, in cooperation with the two clubs tried to find a viable solution in order to reschedule the match, so as to ensure the group stage could be completed accordingly.

“Unfortunately, despite all efforts, a solution that could work for both clubs could not be found.

“As a consequence, the match can no longer be played and the matter will, therefore, be referred to the UEFA Control, Ethics and Disciplinary Body for a decision to be taken in accordance with Annex J of the above-mentioned competition regulations.”

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Rennes frustrated at fixture postponement

The two teams had been in talks over a new date for the game to be played after Rennes expressed their shock at Tottenham’s initial announcement.

The club said in a statement: “In a video conference between representatives of UEFA, Tottenham and Rennes, the Spurs director of football announced their intention not to play the UEFA Europa Conference League game Thursday evening, a unilateral decision which has not been confirmed by UEFA in any way.

“The Tottenham representative did not want to announce the number of their players affected by Covid while the rule states that a game must be played as long as the team has 13 outfielders and a keeper.

“They argued for a decision by the English authorities without advancing any official document. As the match was not officially cancelled by UEFA, Rennes upheld their decision to play.

“Faced with this ‘London fog’, Rennes reserves the right to approach UEFA. This lack of fair play is all the more glaring as Tottenham had confirmed by email that the match would be held at the start of the afternoon before warning Rennes of their intention not to play just after their landing in London.”

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Brighton game called off

A statement released on Spurs’ official website relating to the fixture with Brighton, reads: “We can confirm that our Premier League fixture at Brighton & Hove Albion, on Sunday 12 December at 2pm, has been postponed following a Premier League Board meeting this afternoon (Thursday).

“The Premier League Board took the decision to postpone the game following guidance from medical advisers, with the health of players and staff the priority. The fixture will be rescheduled in due course.

“The Club requested the match to be rearranged following a significant number of positive COVID-19 cases among players and relevant staff.

“As with our other affected fixture, against Stade Rennais in the Europa Conference League, we shall update supporters with more information as soon as it is available.

“We should like to apologise to everyone at Stade Rennais and Brighton & Hove Albion and to both their supporters and ours for any inconvenience caused.

“We should also like to thank both clubs for their understanding during these challenging times.”

Conte’s view

Tottenham manager Antonio Conte has acknowledged that the outbreak represents a nightmare situation for the club and its employees.

“Eight players and five members of staff but the problem is that every day we’re having people with Covid, people that yesterday weren’t positive and today are, and we’re continuing to have contact with. It’s a serious problem,” the Italian told reporters at Wednesday’s pre-match press conference, prior to the meeting with Rennes being cancelled.

“Everyone is a bit scared. People have families. Why do we have to take the risk? This is my question. Today, two positives. And tomorrow, who? Me? I don’t know. Better me than a player for sure. But I think it’s not right for everyone. We have contact with our families.”



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