Tottenham boss Antonio Conte says the club’s lawyers are considering an appeal against UEFA’s decision to award Rennes a 3-0 win in their postponed Europa Conference League game.
The governing body’s disciplinary panel ruled that Spurs forfeited the match after calling it off due to a worsening coronavirus outbreak and gave the French side the victory which saw Conte’s side exit the competition.
Spurs had nine first-team players with the virus at the time and were told to shut down their training centre by health officials.
They tried in vain to rearrange the game before the December 31 deadline but came up against stumbling blocks in the shape of the Premier League, who would not allow Spurs to postpone a fixture, and Rennes, who played hardball over a possible new date.
Conte, who called the decision “incredible”, says the club could take the matter to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
“It is not definitive, but there is another step to confirm or not this incredible decision,” he said.
“We are very, very confident for the next step and I repeat we deserve to play the qualification on the pitch, not in the court. I can’t accept this. We are very, very disappointed with UEFA for this decision.
“It’s unfair for sure. We deserve to play for qualification on the pitch, not in this way.
“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.
“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 centre.
“They take normal decision, not a decision in our favour. I repeat: it was incredible what UEFA did. Also, in explanation about this defeat, I have read that Tottenham couldn’t play the game for Covid cases. I dispute this. But they took this decision.
“Everybody knows the problem. It means maybe someone doesn’t know the problem we were having and maybe some personal interests [behind the decision].”
Spurs are back in action in the quarter-final of the Carabao Cup against West Ham on Wednesday and are potentially three games away from winning a trophy, should the EFL agree to make the semi-finals just one leg.
— Carabao Cup (@Carabao_Cup) December 20, 2021
Conte looks a good bet to be the man to end Spurs’ trophy drought, but is looking at the bigger picture.
“To win trophies is always important but I think in this moment, at this period for Tottenham, it’s more good to think it’s time to rebuild something important,” he said.
“This is the most important thing. Then for sure if you ask me if trophies are important, they are for every club.
“If you don’t start to build a team in an important way. A trophy is only 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 period who can be competitive, to fight for all competitions and fight for all competitions you play.”
Conte confirmed Spurs no longer have any cases of Covid in their camp and the final player will return to training on Wednesday.
Ryan Sessegnon picked up a muscular injury against Liverpool and will be out for 10 days.
On his absence, Conte said: “Ten days to two weeks. He had a muscular problem at the end of the game against Liverpool.
“For sure, we have to find a good solution with Sess because I have seen in the past he has suffered a bit from this type of injury. So we have to find the right solution with the medical department. And also with the player.”