Tottenham Hotspur

Common sense must prevail in Tottenham's Covid-19 situation

Jude Summerfield
The game against Rennes on Thursday should not go ahead
The game against Rennes on Thursday should not go ahead / Julian Finney/GettyImages
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Last season when Tottenham finished seventh to earn a Europa Conference League spot, finishing high enough but still low enough to be considered a joke, it threw up something of a lose-lose situation.

While the competition does give some teams who wouldn't otherwise the chance to play in Europe and travel to amazing stadiums around the continent they probably wouldn't dream of featuring in before, for Spurs, it is a bit embarrassing.

They were a Champions League club as recently as 2020 and reached its final in 2019. The sharp drop-off they have experienced since was summed up in their qualifying for the Europa Conference League. A tournament in which they have already lost twice.

They could qualify for its preliminary play-off round if they better Vitesse's result on Thursday night, but right now, there's something much bigger at play than Europe's third tier club competition.

Tottenham are in the midst of a Covid-19 crisis, with a combined 13 people testing positive.

Right now, there's no confirmation that the game against Rennes will be cancelled, but Antonio Conte looked visibly emotional during his press conference on Wednesday, briefly previewing the match.

He said he had 11 players available and soon after one of his starters tested positive.

The Italian added: "Everyone is a bit scared, we all have families. I ask why? Why? Yesterday [Tuesday] we trained and two positives, today we trained and after another two positives. Who next? It's not right, we're going home to our families."

This is what it all boils down to.

Despite what you may hear from whatever government you're under, whether they're downplaying any parties that may or may not have gone ahead - evening, prime minister! - these aren't just footballers. They're people with families. They remain just as susceptible to catching coronavirus as the rest of us, regardless of how ill it will actually make them. There are famous examples of extremely fit footballers - Newcastle's Allan Saint-Maximin being one - catching Covid-19 and experiencing horrendous long-COVID symptoms.

There isn't a positive argument to be made for Thursday's game to go ahead, regardless of what stipulations UEFA have put forward on squad availability. Nothing good can come of forcing a team ravaged by illness to play. If anything, it damages the credibility of a competition which is already seen as a laughing stock far and wide by football fans.

Common sense must prevail. Tottenham Way should be shut down for now, staff sent home to their families and kept safe, and allowed to return once it is reasonable to do so. To force them to play is irresponsible and reckless.

We do not know how much governing bodies really care for the welfare of players around the world. Plans for increased playing schedules are still being put forward, with little recognition of the amount of miles footballers have put in over the past few years.

The pandemic is still at large. The virus is doing the rounds at Tottenham - potentially a new, more harmful variant - and the club and Rennes don't seem keen on playing.

And yet.

The Premier League should support Tottenham if they decide to shut down for ten days or so. If UEFA do not, a postponement or even a cancellation on Spurs' part should be considered.

Fans care about their players. If there is no case morally for the game going ahead, then it shouldn't.

For now, we await news of whether it will be played. If it does, it would be nothing less than a disgraceful show of non-leadership. And I think I can speak for most when I say there's enough of that doing the rounds right now.


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