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- Italian association football player and manager
Conte revealed eight players and five members of staff had now returned positive tests and said the situation was getting worse every day, with two new cases revealed on Wednesday – including a player who had taken part in the morning’s training session and was set to face Rennes in the Europa Conference League match.
A visibly upset Conte says no-one at the club should have to risk taking the deadly virus home to their families, although the head coach did not explicitly call for the Rennes game to be postponed.
He said: “Eight players and five members of staff [have tested positive]. But the problem is that everyday we are having [more] people with Covid.
“People that yesterday weren’t positive, today were positive. We continue to have contact with people we think are negative but the day after become positive. This is a serious problem.
“Everyday we are having positives. Today one player and one member of staff. The worst is we don’t know and we continue to have contact with people that the day before wean’t negative. For sure this is not a good situation. We have a training session to prepare for the game against Rennes, but it’s very difficult.
“At the end of the training session today, again one player positive. Another member of staff is positive. Tomorrow who? Me? Another player? Another member of staff? And we continue in this way.”
UEFA rules state clubs must fulfil European fixtures if they have 13 players available from their A-List, including a goalkeeper. Conte revealed he only had “11 players available”, thought to include a goalkeeper, meaning Spurs could have legitimate grounds for a postponement if the situation worsens.
However, all European group games must be completed by December 31, which would make it logistically impossible to rearrange the game given the domestic festive schedule.
If Spurs cannot fulfil the fixture, they would forfeit the game 3-0 and be eliminated from the competition.
Asked if he had a message for UEFA, Conte said: “I haven’t [got] to send a message to anyone because the situation is very clear.
“Every day we are having contact with the people that are false negative and become positive and then everyone is a bit scared because we all have family.
“Why do I have to take this risk? Why? This is my question. Today we had the training session, we prepared the game and yesterday two other positives, today two other positives and tomorrow, who? Me? I don’t know. Maybe.
“Better me than a player for sure but it is not right for everyone because we have family and we have contact with them when we come back home we have contact with our family.
“There are situations that made me very, very upset, very upset because the situation is serious and it is contagious and there is a big infection and now for sure we are a bit scared because tomorrow we don’t know what happens.”
Spurs are set to request a postponement of Sunday’s match at Brighton, with a decision to made by the Premier League board, who are less rigid than UEFA over the criteria for postponements.
Asked if both games should be called off, Conte, who admitted this was his toughest week in management, said: “I don’t know, honestly. It is very strange and it is not good to live with this situation at all.
“We are trying to think [about] only football. Today we prepared for the game against Rennes and we had one and a half hours of training and planned to have a session in the morning to prepare the set-pieces, but then I finish the training session and another player and member of staff to add to the [Covid] list.
“Players you have had contact with today - this is the problem. Yesterday they were negative and today positive, and we have had contact today. This is I think the problem and it makes me a bit upset because the situation for sure is not clear and it is not easy for everybody.
“I understand also the players and I understand everyone that works here. It’s a pity because during the press conference I’d like to talk about football and the next game and not about Covid.”