FIFA has opened disciplinary proceedings against Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Dele Alli after the player was caught making an obscene gesture during an England match, world football's governing body announced on Friday.
Obscene gesture was to Walker, claims Alli
Alli raised his middle finger during England’s 2018 World Cup qualifier against Slovakia on Monday but said after the game the gesture had been directed at teammate Kyle Walker as a joke. However, a FIFA spokesman said the incident was being investigated. “We can confirm that disciplinary proceedings have been opened following this incident. Please understand we cannot comment further at this stage”, the spokesman said.
Pictures and video footage of Alli's gesture were widely shared on social media but England manager Gareth Southgate played down the incident. “Kyle and Dele were mucking about and Dele's made a gesture towards Kyle. The pair of them have a strange way of communicating! But that's what they've said when it's been raised”, Southgate told reporters in his post-match press conference at Wembley.
Gesture was just a joke, says Pochettino
Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino, speaking on Thursday, also played it down. “It's true it's not a fantastic gesture but it's not a big issue. It was a joke in a moment with his team mate. I don't think it'll be a big issue with FIFA or with us”.
Alli, 21, has had a number of run-ins with the football authorities and has faced calls to curb his fiery temperament. He missed the Premier League title run-in in 2015-16 after punching West Bromwich Albion's Claudio Yacob and was sent off for a dangerous foul on Gent's Brecht Dejaegere during a Europa League game in February.