Published: 20 Nov 2012 21:34 GMT+01:00 | Print version
Updated: 20 Nov 2012 21:34 GMT+01:00
The Swiss football team is paying the price for a moment’s indiscretion from the side’s coach, Ottmar Hitzfeld, or what might be called the fickle finger of fate.
The disciplinary commission of FIFA, football’s world governing body, on Tuesday decided to suspend Hitzfeld for two games for making an obscene gesture during a World Cup 2014 qualifying game last month.
During the first half of a match between Switzerland and Norway on October 12th, he was caught on video raising his middle finger at Spanish referee David Fernandez.
The game ended in a 1-1 draw while Hitzfeld was put on the back foot trying to explain himself.
While he apologized he said he was pointing the finger at himself not the referee.
“There were a lot of emotions in the game,” the former German football player and onetime Bayern Munich coach told the Blick newspaper shortly after the game.
“I’m sorry for the gesture — of course, I’m mad at myself.”
Still, Hitzfeld argued that he should not be penalized because “you cannot punish me if I point a finger at myself”.
That line of logic did not hold much sway with the disciplinary commission, which found him guilty of breaching article 57 of the FIFA disciplinary code governing offensive behaviour and fair play.
The coach will be suspended for World Cup qualifying games against Cyprus on March 23rd 2013 (in Switzerland) and on June 8th 2013 (in Cyprus).
The commission also ordered Hitzfeld to pay a fine of 7,000 francs and to fork out 1,000 francs to cover the cost of the proceedings.
FIFA said in a statement that the decision could not be appealed according to article 118 of the football association’s disciplinary code.
Unbeaten Switzerland is currently on top of the World Cup qualifying E Group with 10 points, a three-point lead over Norway.
Cyprus, meanwhile, is in bottom place in the six-team group whose winner, to be decided next year, will automatically qualify for the 2014 world championships in Brazil.
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