UEFA often insist ‘the show must go on’ but making Tottenham play Rennes in the midst of a Covid outbreak would turn their Europa Conference League tie into a farce… don’t bank on them to do the right thing
- Tottenham have just 11 players available to play Rennes after a Covid outbreak
- Boss Antonio Conte cut an emotional figure when talking about the situation
- Tottenham are thought to also be pushing for the Brighton game to be called off
The old adage ‘the show must go on’ is never truer than when TV and commercial rights are being considered.
In those cases, players, clubs and even a global pandemic are very much secondary in the thoughts of governing bodies like UEFA.
It’s still hard to reconcile the fact that Denmark’s stricken players were ordered to play or forfeit their Euro 2020 game against Finland the same day their team-mate and friend Christian Eriksen collapsed and nearly lost his life.
Tottenham boss Antonio Conte admitted his side’s Covid outbreak was ‘scary’ after 13 players and staff tested positive
It is not yet known which players have been affected, with seven initially picking up the virus before the situation escalated
Now the same kind of blinkered thinking by UEFA is threatening to turn Tottenham’s Europa Conference game against Rennes into a farce.
Never mind Spurs have a major outbreak of Covid that has seen eight players and five members of staff confirmed as having been infected, leaving manager Antonio Conte ‘scared’.
Never mind, the credibility of the UEFA’s new Europa Conference competition will be compromised if Spurs have to pick a severely weakened team.
Never mind if more Covid is spread in the name of sport with the UK already on a daily infection rate of 50,000.
For UEFA, the show must go on, as it did in the summer when Danish manager Kasper Hjulmand said: ‘The players didn’t know if they lost their best friend. I have a feeling we shouldn’t have played, to just get on the bus and go home.’
Spurs may ask for Sunday’s Premier League fixture against Brighton to be postponed so it seems incredible for them to have to play on Thursday.
For UEFA to ask people coming out of a Covid workplace to play and mingle with international opposition is reckless, even for the benefit of a watching television audience.
But UEFA has previous in removing human concerns or common sense from situations. In 2017, the Borussia Dortmund bus was attacked en route to a Champions League tie against Monaco leaving Marc Bartra injured by the explosions. Dortmund were still told to play the game 24 hours later.
Governing bodies face complex challenges trying to ensure the smooth running of competitions across borders. It’s more difficult than ever in these current times.
Spurs striker Harry Kane led the group of remaining group training ahead of the Rennes clash
Denmark’s players had to play against Finland in Euro 2020 after Christian Eriksen collapsed
Yet there has to remain some degree of responsibility and awareness. Regarding this Spurs-Rennes game, UEFA appears to be tone deaf.
To force a club to fulfil a fixture as long as they have 13 fit players – whilst gambling with the health of participants – is foolhardy if the instinct for wanting sport to continue is usually laudable.
This situation is not normal. Even UEFA need a cut-off line. It’s not too late for them to call the game off but that would mean doing the right thing – and they haven’t done so in the past. Ask the Danes.