Antonio Conte: UEFA decision to expel Tottenham from Europe disrespectful


Tottenham boss Antonio Conte has said UEFA’s decision to expel them from Europe shows a lack of respect towards the club.

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

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

Tottenham had to cancel their game with Rennes after nine players contracted coronavirus (Zac Goodwin / PA)

They tried unsuccessfully to rearrange the game before the December 31 deadline but ran into obstacles with the Premier League, which did not allow Spurs to postpone a game, and Rennes, who played hard on a possible new date.

Conte is exasperated by 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 in the inaugural third tier competition began with a qualifying trip to Portugal in August and Conte said his team deserved to finish it on the pitch.

“It is very difficult to understand this decision. Each club works 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 have been here, here and here, but now you lose 3-0 ‘.

“Because what? Why? We honored the competition to play and tour Europe. But now UEFA is making a decision that I don’t like. It’s disrespecting our work. Is not fair.

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

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

“We’re all confident because I think you get a penalty if you deserve it, if you miss something, but we got ready for the game against Rennes.

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

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

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

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, if the EFL agrees to advance to the one-game semi-finals.

Conte looks like a good bet to be the man to end Tottenham’s trophy drought, but looks 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 important,” he said.

“This is the most important thing. So of course if you ask me if trophies are important they are important for all clubs.

“If you don’t start building a team in a big way. A trophy is just one 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 that you play.”


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