In what can only be described as “taking a nothing situation and blowing it way out of proportion,” FIFA has opened disciplinary proceedings against Dele Alli for displaying a rude gesture on the pitch during an international match. If he is found guilty, he could be subject to a ban of up to three matches.
Alli was caught by a television camera man flipping the bird towards someone in the second half of England’s 2-1 win over Slovakia at Wembley Stadium. The incident happened just after he was body-checked by Slovakia’s Martin Skrtel, with no foul given by match official Clement Turpin.
It was suggested that Alli might have been upset at the no-call and was directing his ire at Turpin during the match, but Alli later said that he was playfully directing the middle finger at England teammate and former Spurs teammate Kyle Walker, something Walker later corroborated.
According to the Telegraph, FIFA believes Dele could be disciplined under Article 57 of the FIFA disciplinary code, which reads as follows:
“Anyone who insults someone in any way, especially by using offensive gestures or language, or who violates the principles of fair play or whose behaviour is unsporting in any other way may be subject to sanctions in accordance with art. 10 ff.”
Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino said that he thought the entire kerfluffle was much ado about nothing, and even pulled in Rowan Atkinson’s comic character Mr. Bean, who had a comedy movie scene based on the same gesture.
“That gesture is not important. It was a joke. It's true that it's not the best example but it's not a big issue. He doesn't deserve to be banned by FIFA.
"Maybe the headlines are because it's Dele and something happens. And he's English. For me, it's about moving on and not creating importance about this. He was joking.
"Look at Mr. Bean! No? Is that a bad example? All the people laugh about that. And Dele was joking with Kyle Walker! Come on. We need to censor Mr Bean!
"I understand that people on TV and in the media need to express themselves and they need to say their opinions. But from my point of view, there is nothing wrong. I am so happy with him. He needs to improve and learn, like me, like everyone. His behaviour is improving a lot."
Should Dele be disciplined, he could miss up to the next three international matches, which would include England’s final two qualifiers and possibly England’s first World Cup match.
For flipping Kyle Walker the bird. (Seriously, what Spurs fan hasn’t flipped the bird at Kyle Walker on their television at some point during his Tottenham career? I have! I understand the impulse!)
Honestly, the whole thing is stupid. Dele was dumb to even use the gesture to begin with, even in jest, but also there’s no way to prove that Dele was directing the gesture towards an official anyway. There are plenty of things that happen on the football pitch that are much, much worse than playfully flipping your teammate the bird, and this whole thing feels like a complete waste of time. But it’s Dele Alli, he’s got a bit of a reputation now, and nobody will ever accuse FIFA of being fair and equitable in how it interprets its own rules.
The BBC says that FIFA probably won’t take up Dele’s accusation until the end of the month. Goody, something to look forward to. Here’s my reaction to FIFA: