Dele Alli insists his gesture was a joke to Kyle Walker
Wednesday, September 13, 2017
The Football Association hopes video evidence will prove to FIFA that Dele Alli’s obscene gesture was aimed at England team-mate Kyle Walker rather than any official or opponent.
Moving to within touching distance of the World Cup finals last week was overshadowed by the fallout to the Tottenham attacking midfielder’s middle-finger gesture in the 2-1 qualifying win against Slovakia.
Annoyed not to win a free-kick after a collision with Martin Skrtel on the edge of the box, when play was halted TV footage showed Alli swearing – something he was quick to point out on social media was aimed at Walker.
England boss Gareth Southgate downplayed talk his gesture was aimed at referee Clement Turpin, with both Alli and Walker understood to have made statements as part of the FA’s submission to FIFA.
Football’s world governing body opened disciplinary proceedings against the England midfielder in the wake of the incident, with the FA given up until Wednesday to respond.
An FA spokesperson said: “We have today responded to FIFA and understand the case will be reviewed by the disciplinary committee before the end of the month.”
It is believed the FA’s submission included a plea in mitigation and video evidence showing that the middle-finger gesture was aimed at Walker rather than the officials or any Slovakia player.
It is also understood that the FA has asked FIFA to confirm the decision will be made before the World Cup qualifier at home to Slovenia on October 5.
Earlier this year, Argentina successfully appealed against a four-match suspension imposed by FIFA on Lionel Messi for verbally abusing a match official. The Barcelona star had served one game by the time it was lifted.
If a lengthy ban was handed out to the England player rather than a fine, there is the prospect Alli could miss not only the conclusion of the qualifying campaign, but also potentially the opening match of the 2018 World Cup should, as most likely, Southgate’s team qualify.
The Three Lions have a five-point cushion at the top of Group F with a home match against Slovenia and trip to Lithuania to come.