Tottenham boss Antonio Conte says UEFA’s decision to eliminate Spurs from the Conference League is ‘unfair’ but warns: ‘There’s another step now.’
Spurs didn’t play their final Conference League group stage game against Stade Rennais at the beginning of December after that eight players and five members of staff had tested positive for COVID.
UEFA didn’t postpone or cancel the game as the protocol states that as long as a club has 13 players available, at least one of them a goalkeeper, then the match will go ahead.
Tottenham should have won their last European match to qualify for the knockout round playoff but were handed a 3-0 loss by default meaning they’ve been eliminated from the competition.
“It’s not definitive,” Conte said at a press conference, as quoted by the London Evening Standard.
Tottenham: Antonio Conte says “personal interests” were behind the “incredible” and “unfair” decision to throw the club out of the Europa Conference League https://t.co/o0M2k8QpVd
— Evening Standard (@EveningStandard) December 21, 2021
“Positives? No. For sure this is an incredible decision,” he continued.
“This decision is not fair. All the world knows we were facing a big problem like COVID. We didn’t play not through our fault but because we had many players with Covid and the Government decided to stop our training sessions and close our training centre.
“Honestly, for me, the club and our fans, it’s incredible the decision UEFA wanted to take. It’s unfair for sure.
“We deserve to play for qualification on the pitch, not in this way. I’m very disappointed for UEFA’s decisions. I don’t want to understand but I hope in the future, in the next step, something can change because we deserve to play for qualification on the pitch, not in this way. It’s not our fault.
“There’s another step to confirm or not this incredible decision. I’m very disappointed with UEFA because everybody knows the problem. It means maybe someone doesn’t know the problem we were having and maybe some personal interests [were involved].”
“UEFA took this decision but there’s another step and we’re confident that there’s another step. I repeat: it was incredible what UEFA did.
“Don’t forget the players ask me why. The players are very, very disappointed in this decision.
“We will fight against this decision because we want to play. We want to play the qualification on the pitch – not in the court. We have to play. If we don’t win, it’s right to go out of this competition. It’s fair. We deserve to play the qualification on the pitch.”
Roma are the only Serie A club involved in the competition, but the Giallorossi have already qualified for the last 16 stage having won their group.