Alli Apologises for Offensive Gesture

Dele Alli has apologised for making an offensive gesture during the World Cup Qualifier at Wembley Stadium on Monday.

The English player made the gesture in the 77th minute of the game. This was shortly after the referee denied Alli a free-kick after a rough tackle by Slovakia’s Martin Skrtel.

The 21-year-old Tottenham midfielder took to social media to explain, and apologise for, his behaviour.

Alli said that the gesture was never directed at referee Clement Turpin, but was aimed, in jest, at teammate, and former Tottenham colleague, Kyle Walker.

Alli tweeted: “Just to clarify, the gesture tonight was a joke between me and my good friend Kyle Walker! Apologies for any offence caused! Great win 2nite [sic].”

Gareth Southgate, England coach, said that he didn’t see the hand gesture during the match, but has since been made aware of it.

According to Southgate: “Kyle and Dele were mucking about, and Dele’s made a gesture towards Kyle. I don’t know what the angle picked up by the camera is, so I don’t know if that is clear. The pair of them have a strange way of communicating but that’s what they’ve said when it’s been raised.”

Referee Turpin had his back turned at the time, and did not see the obscene gesture, but Alli may still face retroactive repercussions. FIFA may choose to review the incident depending on what Turpin includes in his report, and on whether or not they believe Southgate and Alli’s claim that it was a joke.

According to FIFA rules, “unsporting conduct toward a match official” comes with at least a four-game ban.

In March, Lionel Messi was handed this punishment, as well as a hefty fine, after insulting an assistant referee during a World Cup Qualifier between Argentina and Chile. The ban was later overturned on appeal.

Alli’s actions have distracted from England’s excellent performance, which resulted in a 2-1 win over Slovakia.

“For me, what it does is detract from what was [Alli’s] best performance for us since I’ve been the manager,” Southgate said.