Alli Defends Finger Gesture
Alli claims middle finger salute was a ‘joke with good friend Kyle Walker’- but could still face ban
Dele Alli was forced to apologise after he was caught making a one-finger gesture during England’s 2-1 win against Slovakia at Wembley.
At the time it looked as if Alli directed the salute at French referee Clement Turpin, but the Tottenham star insisted after the game that he was having a joke with his England team-mate Kyle Walker.
Alli wrote on Twitter: ‘Just to clarify, the gesture tonight was a joke between me and my good friend Kyle Walker! Apologies for any offence caused!’
TV pictures with a wide view of the Wembley pitch appeared to back up his defence.
But if FIFA did deem it was directed at referee Turpin, Alli would be at risk of being ruled out for three matches, including the final two qualifiers against Slovenia and Lithuania and the first match of next summer’s World Cup finals should England qualify.
In June, Lionel Messi was banned for four games for insulting an assistant referee, and although that was later rescinded it gives an idea how seriously FIFA take the issue.
England manager Gareth Southgate said: ‘I’ve not seen it but I’ve been made aware of it. Kyle and Dele were mucking about, and Dele’s made a gesture towards Kyle.
‘I don’t know what the angle of the pitch is. The pair of them have a strange way of communicating, but that’s what they’ve said when it’s been raised.’
Southgate, though, says he will discourage Alli from making such gestures in the future.
‘For me, what it does is detract from what was his best performance for us since I’ve been the manager.’ the Three Lions boss continued.
‘His work without the ball was top drawer, intelligent positions and turning people over. He made fantastic runs behind the opposition defence and was a threat. Hopefully we’ll be talking about that.’
Meanwhile, former England star Ian Wright believes Alli will regret his actions. Wright said on ITV: ‘Now he’s in the dressing room, he will be thinking “Gosh, what have I done there?”