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Hitzfeld's team wins but finger issue lingers

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Hitzfeld's team wins but finger issue lingers
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10:51 CEST+02:00
Switzerland's football coach Ottmar Hitzfeld is in hot water these days but his team's 2-0 victory against Iceland in a World Cup qualifier on Tuesday has eased the tension.

Shortly before the game in Reykjavik, Hitzfeld learned that he had been charged by FIFA, the world's governing football body, for making an obscene gesture during last Friday’s game between the Swiss side and Norway.

During the first half of the Norway match, which ended in a 1-1 draw, Hitzfeld was caught raising his middle finger at Spanish referee David Fernandez.

The opening of disciplinary proceedings by FIFA did not stop the former Bayern Munich coach from participating in the Iceland game.

But it put Hitfzfeld on the back foot as he tried to explain himself.

While apologizing, he said that he was pointing the finger at himself not the referee.

“There were a lot of emotions in the game,” he told the Blick newspaper.

“I’m sorry for the gesture — of course, I’m mad at myself.”

Hitzfeld, nonetheless, argued that he should not be penalized because “you cannot punish me if  I point the finger at myself”.

The episode is a curious sideshow to unbeaten Switzerland’s otherwise promising performance in the World Cup qualifiers, with the the team now on top of Group E with 10 points after four games, three points ahead of Norway.

The Swiss side escaped a strong showing by the Icelandic squad by scoring twice in the second half with goals from Tranquilla Barnetta and Mario Gavranovic.

The top two winners of Group E, to be determined next year, automatically qualify for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

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