Tottenham’s UEFA Conference League clash with Rennes on Thursday has been called off due to an outbreak of COVID-19, the Londoners have confirmed.
Eight players and five further members of staff tested positive for Spurs in the build-up to the match, leaving the club severely limited in terms of selection options.
Rennes, though, angrily disputed Tottenham’s announcement, saying the decision was “unilateral” and that Spurs had displayed a lack of fair play throughout the process.
Why won’t Spurs-Rennes take place?
“We can confirm that our UEFA Europa Conference League Group G home fixture against Stade Rennais will not take place tomorrow (Thursday 9 December at 8pm UK) after a number of positive COVID-19 cases at the Club,” Tottenham said in a statement released on the club’s official website on Wednesday.
“Discussions are ongoing with UEFA and we shall provide a further update on this fixture in due course.
BARCA OUT OF UCL: How it happened
“Additionally, following discussions with the Health Security Agency (formerly Public Health England) and DCMS advisers, the Club has been advised to close the First Team area of its Training Centre at this time, in the interests of the health and safety of players and staff.
“All other areas of the Training Centre remain operational.”
Is Spurs’ next Premier League match in peril?
The statement passed no comment on whether Spurs’ visit to Brighton in the Premier League on Sunday would go ahead.
Manager Antonio Conte, though, acknowledged that the outbreak represented a nightmare for the club and its employees.
“Eight players and five members of staff but the problem is that every day we’re having people with Covid, people that yesterday weren’t positive and today are, and we’re continuing to have contact with. It’s a serious problem,” the Italian told reporters at Wednesday’s pre-match press conference, prior to the meeting with Rennes being canceled.
“Everyone is a bit scared. People have families. Why do we have to take the risk? This is my question. Today, two positives. And tomorrow, who? Me? I don’t know. Better me than a player for sure. But I think it’s not right for everyone. We have contact with our families.”
Angry Rennes responds to Spurs’ announcement
Rennes was taken aback by Tottenham’s announcement, saying in a statement: “In a video conference between representatives of UEFA, Tottenham and Rennes, the Spurs director of football announced their intention not to play the UEFA Europa Conference League game Thursday evening, a unilateral decision which has not been confirmed by UEFA in any way.
“The Tottenham representative did not want to announce the number of their players affected by Covid while the rule states that a game must be played as long as the team has 13 outfielders and a keeper.
“They argued for a decision by the English authorities without advancing any official document. As the match was not officially canceled by UEFA, Rennes upheld their decision to play.
“Faced with this ‘London fog,’ Rennes 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.”