Three-game knockout blow a prospect after Alli's punch

Tottenham midfielder Dele Alli exchanges angry words with West Brom's Claudio Yacob. The Spurs player was caught punching Yakob in an off-the-ball incident and may miss the rest of the season.
Tottenham midfielder Dele Alli exchanges angry words with West Brom's Claudio Yacob. The Spurs player was caught punching Yakob in an off-the-ball incident and may miss the rest of the season. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

LONDON • Dele Alli faces a three-match ban from the Football Association that stands to end his domestic season after he was charged with violent conduct for seemingly throwing a punch at West Bromwich Albion's Claudio Yacob on Monday night.

The Tottenham Hotspur midfielder, who was named as the Professional Footballers' Association's Young Player of the Year on Sunday night, had been unhappy at Yacob's close attentions early on in the Premier League fixture, which finished in a 1-1 draw.

Alli squared up to Yacob in the fifth minute, after being fouled by him, and he had a dig back at him in the 26th minute. Alli glanced at Yacob away from the ball before he hit him in the midriff. There was no reaction from the West Brom midfielder, who played it down after the game. "I don't remember it," Yacob said. "It was nothing. What stays on the pitch … "

The flashpoint went unseen by the referee, Mike Jones, and his assistants and indeed it went unseen by everybody in the stadium. But it was soon spotted from the live television footage and circulated on social media. By half-time, it was clear that it would be an issue.

Alli has claimed Yacob hit him earlier but, even if that were the case, it would not have helped the 19-year-old to avoid a charge.

The FA's processes focus solely on the indiscretions themselves. It would have issued a separate charge against Yacob were he to have been caught punching Alli. The FA has not found any footage to incriminate Yacob.

Jones' confirmation to the governing body that he did not see the incident served to open the route to retrospective action and three former referees were asked independently whether they would have shown a red card to Alli for the offence. Each said that they would, which has led to the charge. The decision of the three had to be unanimous.

If the charge is proven, he will miss the final three games of Tottenham's season - against Chelsea, Southampton and Newcastle United. His next involvement could be for England in their warm-up fixtures for Euro 2016.

There is sure to be a focus on his temperament before the tournament.

THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 28, 2016, with the headline 'Three-game knockout blow a prospect after Alli's punch'. Print Edition | Subscribe