“If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”
Tottenham Hotspur are out of the UEFA Europa League. We’re not here to rip open wounds that are still fresh, but one thing that apparently needs to be hammered home is that Spurs are done in this competition, even if a club that isn’t is expelled because of racist fans. Let me explain.
If you’re living under a rock, Slavia Prague fans posted a “response” to Rangers player Glen Kamara that I will not repost here. It’s as blatantly racist as it gets and is bad enough that some journalists in Europe are suggesting UEFA might disqualify them from the quarterfinals of Europa League. That’s led to speculation on how UEFA would handle such a situation, though I’m not going to hold my breath for the association to do anything like that.
Enter Twitter, the bastion of hot takes and misinformation. Specifically, this has been gaining traction:
BREAKING NEWS— Spurs Lion (@spurslion) March 20, 2021
It is our understanding that Uefa are exploring the possibility of removing Slavia Prague from the competition due to alleged racist abuse. This would then mean the team with the highest Uefa coefficient, will be brought back in. This means SPURS will return.
Let’s get this out of the way: This is wrong. It’s not even remotely close to what the rules say. So what would happen?
I point you to Article 26 of UEFA’s guidelines for the competition:
If a club refuses to play or is responsible for a match (including kicks from the penalty mark) not taking place or not being played in full, the UEFA Control, Ethics and Disciplinary Body declares the match forfeited and disqualifies the club concerned in combination with the following fines:
prior to or during the quarter-finals: €200,000
Exceptionally, the UEFA Control, Ethics and Disciplinary Body can validate the result as it stood at the moment when the match was abandoned if the match result was to the detriment of the club responsible for the match being abandoned.
If a club is disqualified or for any reason withdraws from the competition before completion of its matches in the group stage, the results of all of its matches are declared null and void, and its points forfeited.
In all cases, the UEFA Control, Ethics and Disciplinary Body can take further measures if the circumstances so justify.
A club which refuses to play or is responsible for a match not taking place or not being played in full loses all rights to payments from UEFA.
Upon receipt of a reasoned and well-documented request from the aggrieved club(s), the UEFA administration may set an amount of compensation due for financial loss.
To summarize, Slavia would be fined €200,000 and their opponents (Arsenal) would be given two 3-0 victories via forfeit and move on to the semi-finals.
While I have to give a tip of the cap when it comes to creativity in creating what sounds like a plausible rule to get Spurs back into the competition, UEFA’s guidelines are the ones that make the most sense. You’re not going to bring another club back into the mix after they were fairly eliminated in the round prior. If that were the rule and, let’s say Spurs were eliminated in the Round of 32, would you give Spurs a bump to the quarterfinals?
No, you wouldn’t.
So, in short: Slavia Prague’s fans are racist and may get their club booted, which would benefit Arsenal. UEFA, however, will probably just fine them and let them continue on.
In either situation, Spurs are eliminated and there exists no loophole that can get them back in.