Tottenham Hotspur will embark on their European journey next season much earlier than anticipated as Arsenal’s victory in the FA Cup final means that the Lilywhites will have to navigate three qualification games.
Due to the compressed schedule as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, all three of Tottenham’s qualification matches, the first of which will be held on September 17, will be one-legged affairs.
However, Football.London have revealed that a bizarre rule change by UEFA could yet cost Spurs their place in the competition before they even kick a ball.
Given the various travel restrictions imposed as a result of the pandemic, UEFA have reportedly decided that if a home team’s country restricts travel from the country of the visiting team after the draw has been made, then the home team must forfeit the game.
This means that should Britain restrict travel from the country of the team Spurs have drawn, then their opponents will progress to the next round.
UEFA claim that the rule change has been implemented “to guarantee as much as possible the start and continuity of the qualifying phase and play-offs of the 2020/21 UEFA Champions League and 2020/21 UEFA Europa League”.
The relevant rule states: “Restrictions imposed by the national/local authorities of either club in a tie after the deadline for the clubs to inform the UEFA administration in accordance with paragraph I.1.1 shall, in principle, not be taken into account.
“In such cases, the club whose national/local authorities have imposed restrictions preventing the match from taking place as scheduled will be held responsible and the match will be declared by the UEFA Control, Ethics and Disciplinary Body to be forfeited by such club, which will be considered to have lost it 3-0.”
Spurs Web Opinion
This rule essentially means that UEFA could punish teams from countries who have handled the pandemic better than others, as that is the only reason for a government to restrict travel from a certain location. One would imagine that special considerations would be made if such a situation come to pass as there would be an uproar if sides are forced to forfeit because of a situation that is out of their control. Playing in neutral venues would be the obvious solution to the problem.
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