Antonio Conte suggested Tottenham will take UEFA to court over the governing body’s “unfair” decision that consequently eliminated his side from the Europa Conference League.
Spurs’ final group match against Rennes on December 9 was called off late on following a coronavirus outbreak at the Premier League club that saw five staff members and eight players test positive.
With a new date unable to be set for their European encounter, UEFA ruled that Spurs had forfeited the game and awarded Rennes a 3-0 victory, therefore eliminating Conte’s side from the competition.
However, Conte does not agree with UEFA’s decision to award Rennes the win and claimed the outcome may even have been influenced by “personal interest”.
“For sure this is an incredible decision,” he said at a news conference previewing Wednesday’s EFL Cup quarter-final with West Ham. “This decision is not fair. All the world knows we were facing a big problem like COVID.
“We didn’t play through our fault but because we had many, many players with COVID and the government decided to stop our training sessions and to [shut] our training centre.
“Honestly for me, the players, the club and our fans, it’s incredible the decision UEFA wanted to take. It’s unfair for sure.
“We deserve to play for qualification on the pitch, not in this way. I’m very disappointed for UEFA’s decision.
“I hope that 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.
“UEFA took this decision but then there’s another step to confirm or not this incredible decision. But I repeat I’m very disappointed with UEFA because everybody knows the problem.
“It means maybe someone doesn’t know the problem we were having and maybe [there was] some personal interest [behind the decision].”
UEFA rules state a team cannot call off a match if they have 13 players from their A list, including a goalkeeper, available to play.
Asked to clarify if the “next step” means taking the case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, Conte added: “Yeah. UEFA took this decision but there’s another step and we’re confident that there’s another step.
“I repeat, it was incredible what UEFA did. Also, in explanation about this defeat, I have read that Tottenham couldn’t play [a rearranged] game because of COVID cases. I dispute this. But [UEFA] took this decision.
“We are very, very confident for the next step and I repeat we deserve to play for qualification on the pitch, not in the court. I can’t accept this. We are very, very disappointed with UEFA for this.”
Rennes finished top of Group G and are through to the last 16 of UEFA’s third-tier European competition, while Vitesse – who finished three points ahead of Tottenham – are scheduled to face Rapid Vienna in the play-off round.