‘No worse than Mr. Bean’: Coach defends England player over middle-finger salute as FIFA launch case
Dele was caught by TV cameras ‘flipping the bird’ after being fouled during England’s 2-1 win over Slovakia on Monday, initially thought to be in the direction of referee Clément Turpin, owing to the French official having denied the midfielder a free kick just moments before.
After the incident was scrutinized on television and Dele himself had become a viral hit on Twitter, the player was quick to clear up the situation as a private joke between himself and “good friend” Kyle Walker, playing right back for England that night.
“Just to clarify, the gesture tonight was a joke between me and my good friend Kyle Walker! Apologies for any offence caused!” Dele tweeted shortly after the game.
Despite the apparent good nature of the incident, FIFA nevertheless began a disciplinary proceedings against Dele which could see him fined or suspended.
“We can confirm that disciplinary proceedings have been opened following this incident. Please understand we cannot comment further at this stage,” a FIFA spokesman said on Friday, the Guardian reported.
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— Dele (@dele_official) September 4, 2017
But Dele’s coach at club side Tottenham Hotspur, Mauricio Pochettino, declared the joke is no more harmless than the same gesture made by comedy character Mr. Bean in a scene from the film ‘Mr. Bean’s Holiday’, in which the protagonist indiscriminately gives the single-digit salute to motorists.
“Maybe the headlines are because it’s Dele and something happens – and he’s English,” he said.
“But I think it’s not a big issue. For me, it’s about moving on and not creating important things about this. He was joking.
“Look at Mr. Bean. That is a bad example! All the people laugh about that, and Dele was joking with Kyle Walker. Come on. We need to censor Mr. Bean, no?”
Walker, playing right back for England that night, is a former club teammate of Dele’s; the two played together at Tottenham before the former completed a record £50 million ($65 million) switch to Manchester City this summer.
In response to Dele’s explanation of this action, Walker sarcastically wished his former teammate good morning the day after the Slovakia game on Twitter with a gif of the movie scene in question. The tweet gained over 180,000 reactions.
In 2014, FC Rostov player Guelor Kanga gave the middle finger to fans of Spartak Moscow who had subjected him to monkey chants.
The Russian Football Union banned him for three matches, as well as fining him 50,000 rubles ($875). Spartak were fined 70,000 rubles for “the chanting by fans of insulting expressions.”