Tottenham midfielder Dele Alli has been handed a one-match ban by the Football Association for a social media post mocking coronavirus.
In February, Alli posted a video on Snapchat from Heathrow Airport as he waited for a flight to Dubai while wearing a face mask, suggesting an Asian man in the terminal could be infected with the coronavirus.
Dele turned the camera to the man and then to a bottle of hand sanitizer with the caption: “The virus gunna have to be faster than that to catch me”.
Following the video, Dele Alli has been involved in an FA investigation and will now miss his team’s Project Restart opener against Manchester United a week on Friday after disciplinary chiefs slapped the midfielder with a one match suspension and £50,000 fine.
He must also undertake a face-to-face education course following a breach of FA Rule E3.
The associations statement read: “Dele Alli has been suspended for one match with immediate effect, fined £50,000 and must undertake an education course following a breach of FA Rule E3.
“The Tottenham Hotspur player denied that a social media post breached FA Rule E3(1), as it was insulting and/or improper and/or brought the game into disrepute, and constituted an “Aggravated Breach”, which is defined in FA Rule E3(2), as it included a reference, whether express or implied, to race and/or colour and/or ethnic origin and/or nationality.
“However, it was subsequently found proven by an independent Regulatory Commission.”
They added: “It was not the FA’s case that Dele Alli was a racist. The FA’s case was that ‘without sufficient thought’, the player shared a video that depicted an ‘unacceptable racist stereotype’ in a misguided attempt at humour.
“He was selected, argued the FA for his appearance and not because there had been any coughing. That ‘targeting’ was said to be consistent with a racial stereotyping of persons of Asian appearance being connected with coronavirus.”
In a statement to the Tottenham website, Dele Alli said: “In response to the FA decision, I would like to apologise again for any offence caused by my behaviour. It was an extremely poorly judged joke about a virus that has now affected us more than we could ever have imagined.
“I’m grateful that the FA has confirmed that my actions were not intentionally racist because I despise racism of any kind. We all need to be mindful of the words and actions we use and how they can be perceived by others.”