UEFA’s decision to exclude Tottenham from the Conference League is disrespectful


Tottenham boss Antonio Conte said UEFAThe decision to kick them out of Europe shows a lack of respect for the club.

Spurs left the Europa Conference League after the governing body ruled they had ‘abandoned’ their last group game against Rennes when they called it off due to a worsening coronavirus outbreak, handing the France squad a 3-0 victory.

Spurs had nine first-team players with the virus at the time and health officials told them to close their training facility.

They tried unsuccessfully to rearrange the game before the December 31 deadline but ran into pitfalls in the form of the Premier League, who would not allow Spurs to postpone a game, and Rennes, who played hard on a possible new date.

Conte is furious with the decision, says the players are disappointed and wants the club’s lawyers to take the case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Their journey into the inaugural third-tier competition began with a qualifying trip to Portugal in August and Conte says his side deserve to finish it on the pitch.

“It is very difficult to understand this decision. Every club is working very, very hard,” he said.

“Tottenham started playing in this competition from this summer and now it’s unfair for a decision that is not in our hands and to say to Tottenham, ‘Thank you very much, you went here, here and here, but now you lose 3-0’.

“Because what? Why? We did the competition proud to play and tour Europe. But now UEFA are making a decision that I don’t like. It’s a lack of respect for our job. It’s not fair.

“We are convinced that something can change in the future because the players, the fans, the club want to play the qualification on the pitch, not on the court.

“Remember, players ask me why. The players are very, very disappointed with this decision.

“We are all confident because I think you get a punishment if you deserve it, if you miss something, but we prepared for the game against Rennes.

“We did everything to play the game. But if someone else stops you for an important reason – a Covid reason – then I don’t understand why Tottenham have to pay for that situation.

“It’s unfair and for sure, we will fight against this decision because we want to play. We want to play the qualification on the pitch, not on the court.

“We have to play. If we don’t win, it’s fair to get out of this competition. It’s just. We deserve to play the qualification on the ground.

Spurs are back in action in the Carabao Cup quarter-final against West Ham on Wednesday and are potentially three games away from winning a trophy, should the EFL agree to make the semi-finals a single leg.

Conte looks like a good bet to be the man to end Tottenham’s trophy drought, but look at the bigger picture.

“Winning trophies is always important but I think right now, at this time for Tottenham, it’s better to think it’s time to rebuild something big,” he said.

“That’s the most important thing. So of course if you ask me if trophies are important, they are for all clubs.

“If you don’t start building a team in a big way. A trophy is just a situation that can help you.

“For me, it’s important to build a solid base, a foundation, to have a team in a short time that can be competitive, to fight for all the competitions and to fight for all the competitions you play in.”

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