Tottenham midfielder Dele Alli is facing a potential international ban as FIFA have opened disciplinary proceedings against the 21-year-old following his middle finger incident in England’s World Cup Qualifier with Slovakia on Monday night.
The incident took place in the 77th minute of the game as Alli was caught on camera making the gesture which he claimed was a joke between himself and Kyle Walker – though many believe it was actually aimed at the referee Clement Turpin.
Just to clarify, the gesture tonight was a joke between me and my good friend Kyle Walker! Apologies for any offence caused! Great win 2nite
— Dele (@dele_official) September 4, 2017
Although possibly a light-hearted gesture between two teammates, Alli is now under investigation from FIFA, whose representatives confirmed that proceedings had been opened, according to Sky Sports:
“We can confirm that disciplinary proceedings have been opened following this incident. Please understand we cannot comment further at this stage.”
Any retrospective action taken could see Alli potentially miss the last of England’s World Cup qualifiers against Slovenia and Lithuania as they look to secure their place in Russia next summer.
Lionel Messi was banned for a similar incident regarding verbally abusing an assistant referee in a game against Chile. However, he saw the decision overturned on a lack of evidence once appealed.
Given that there is no direct evidence that Alli’s gesture was aimed toward the referee, the Tottenham man could possibly escape suspension upon these grounds.
The good news for Spurs fans is that any action taken against the midfielder will not affect his availability at club level which will be a big boost considering he has already scored twice in three games this campaign.
Whether Alli escapes action or not will be interesting to see in the coming days. One thing that is for certain, if you’re going to stick up your middle finger – Wembley Stadium with fifty cameras on you is probably not the best place to do it.
Jordan Norris, Pundit Arena
Check out the latest episode of The Mixer, Pundit Arena’s Irish football podcast where we reflect on a disappointing week for the Republic of Ireland.