Bird-Gate™ has come to its inevitable — and ridiculous — conclusion today after FIFA has issued a one-match international ban to Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Dele Alli. Dele is being punished flipping the bird to Kyle Walker in an England match a few weeks ago. He’ll miss England’s first World Cup qualifier against Slovenia on Thursday but will be available to play against Lithuania on October 8.
Dele was caught on camera giving the rude gesture, but it was initially unclear to whom he was flipping off. The incident happened soon after Dele was the victim of a hard foul by Martin Skrtel that was not called by match official Clement Turpin. After the match, Dele insisted that it was a playful gesture directed at international teammate (and former Spurs man) Kyle Walker and was NOT directed either at Turpin or Skrtel.
Still, that’s never stopped football’s organizational bodies from making mountains out of molehills, and apparently they determined that there was too much evidence for them to let this go (but not enough for, say, a three match ban). Whatever.
Look, I’m not going to pretend that I’m upset that Dele now will not be injured in a match that England will almost certainly win anyway even without his help. England will qualify for Russia 2018 with a win against either Slovenia or Lithuania next week.
Mauricio Pochettino had previously suggested that if he were banned he might consider asking England manager Gareth Southgate to just let Dele remain with Spurs over the international break. That’d be okay too. Either way, this whole dumb saga is over now and we can all move over with our lives.