Rennes have hit out at Tottenham Hotspur, accusing the Premier League club of a ‘lack of fair play’, after Spurs announced they had pulled out of their Europa Conference League clash, writes the TalkSport.
The London side announced on Wednesday they will not play the tie due to their COVID-19 crisis, but Rennes have replied with a statement of their own, saying they will appeal to UEFA and urge for the match to be played as planned.
Spurs’ announcement about the match came on Wednesday night, hours after manager Antonio Conte revealed eight players and five members of staff had tested positive for coronavirus.
The Italian described the club’s outbreak as a ‘serious situation’ and admitted more positive cases within the team and staff are expected.
However, the lack of clarity in their statement over the number of people who have tested positive appears to have angered Rennes, who had already touched down in London when the announcement was made.
Tottenham’s statement read: “We can confirm that our UEFA Europa Conference League Group G home fixture against Stade Rennais will not take place tomorrow (Thursday December 9 at 8pm UK) after a number of positive Covid-19 cases at the club.”
Rennes then responded furiously with their own statement, claiming Spurs refused to reveal the number of players affected by COVID-19 when competition rules state a match must be played as long as the team has 13 outfield players and a goalkeeper.
As it stands, Tottenham have not formerlly postponed the match, only that their intention is not to play. And, for Rennes, that doesn’t appear to be good enough, as they took aim at the ‘London fog’ coming out of Spurs.
“Following the press release published by Tottenham at 9pm, this Wednesday, Stade Rennais FC would like to clarify the following facts,” the Ligue 1 club said.
“In a video conference at 7.45pm between representatives of UEFA, Tottenham and SRFC, the Spurs director of football (Fabio Paratici) announced their intention not to play the UEFA Europa Conference League game on Thursday evening.
“(This is a) unilateral decision which has not been confirmed by UEFA in any way.
“The Tottenham representative did not want to announce the number of players affected by Covid when the rule states that a match must be played as long as the team has 13 outfielders and a keeper.
“He argued for a decision by the English authorities without advancing any official document.
“As the match was not officially cancelled by UEFA, Stade Rennais FC upheld their decision to play.
“Faced with this ‘London fog’, the SRFC reserves the right to approach UEFA. This lack of fair play is all the more glaring as Tottenham had confirmed by email that the match would be held at the start of the afternoon before warning Rennes of their intention not to play just after their landing in London City.”
Tottenham, who have closed the first-team area of their training ground as a result of the COVID spread, have said ‘discussions are ongoing with UEFA’ over a new fixture date.
It remains unclear whether Spurs will ask for their Premier League match at Brighton on Sunday to be postponed, but a clearly emotional Conte admitted the situation was almost impossible.
“The problem is that every day we are having people with Covid,” Conte said at a press conference, which was held virtually rather than in person at the club’s Hotspur Way training centre.
“People that yesterday weren’t positive, today were positive and we continue to have contact with people we think are negative but the day after become positive. I think this is a serious problem.
“The worst is we don’t know and we continue to have contact with people that the day before were negative. For sure this is not a good situation.
“At the end of the training session today, again one player positive. Another member of staff is positive.
“Tomorrow, who (will it be)? Me? Another player? Another member of staff? And we continue in this way.”
The league works on a case-by-case basis and if a club does request a game to be postponed, it would be a Premier League board decision.