FIFA probe Argentina for Falklands protest

BELO HORIZONTE, Brazil - Football world governing body FIFA said on Friday it had begun disciplinary proceedings against Argentina's football association due to a players' protest over the Falkland islands at a World Cup warmup game.


At last week's home friendly against Slovenia in La Plata, the Argentina team stood behind a banner proclaiming sovereignty over the Falkland islands, or Malvinas as South Americans know them, in a long-running dispute with Britain. "Las Malvinas Son Argentinas," or "The Malvinas Are Argentine", read the large poster displayed on the pitch before Argentina's 2-0 win.


"FIFA can confirm that disciplinary proceedings have been opened today," the world body said, referring to an "apparent breach" of two regulations referring to "prevention of provocative and aggressive actions" and "team misconduct." "The Argentina FA has been invited to provide its position to the FIFA Disciplinary Committee, together with any documentary evidence it might deem appropriate," it added in a statement.


Britain has controlled the South Atlantic archipelago, home to about 3,000 people, since 1833 and went to war with Argentina in 1982 to repel an invasion. That resulted in the deaths of 255 British and about 650 Argentine soldiers. The dispute has given a political edge to Argentina-England football clashes over the years, most famously in 1986 when Diego Maradona said that his two goals against England in the Mexico World Cup finals were revenge for the Falklands war.


Calls to Argentine football officials in Brazil went unanswered, and there was no immediate response to FIFA's announcement on the national association's web site. Current President Cristina Fernandez has revived nationalist sentiment over the Falklands in recent years, mounting a vocal campaign to renegotiate sovereignty and prevent London-listed oil and gas firms from drilling near the islands.

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Aaj Kal