UEFA has appointed an ethics and disciplinary inspector to investigate Austria striker Marko Arnautovic’s reaction to his goal against North Macedonia.
The former West Ham striker, who is currently playing his football in China with Shanghai Port, was restrained by skipper David Alaba as he gestured angrily after scoring late in Sunday’s 3-1 Group C victory in Romania.
He allegedly made a racial slur following his late strike, saying ‘I’m f***ing your Albanian mother’ in the direction of Ezgjan Alioski, according to Koha.
A UEFA statement said: “In accordance with the Article 31(4) of the UEFA Disciplinary Regulations, an Ethics and Disciplinary Inspector has been appointed to conduct an investigation regarding the incident involving the player Marko Arnautovi? that occurred during the 2020 European Championship group-stage match between the national teams of Austria and North Macedonia on 13 June 2021.
“Further information on this matter will be made available in due course.”
The incident came in the 89th minute of the game after Arnautovic scored and appeared to make comments towards opposition players and then turned towards spectators.
Reports have alleged his initial remarks were aimed at defender Egzon Bejtulai and Gjanni Alioski, who both have Albanian roots.
The reason for the slur appears to relate to the Kosovo War, in which Serbia and Albania came into conflict over the Kosovo region.
Arnautovic later apologised for his outburst, but insisted he was not a racist.
In a post on his official Instagram account, he wrote: ‘There were some heated words yesterday in the emotions of the game for which I would like to apologise – especially to my friends from North Macedonia and Albania.
‘I would like to say one thing very clearly: I am not a racist. I have friends in almost every country and I stand for diversity. Everyone who knows me is aware of that.’
UEFA introduced a 10-match ban for discrimination in 2013 and it is the minimum punishment that the organisation’s control, ethics and disciplinary body can issue for racist behaviour.
If found guilty, Arnautovic would miss all of Austria’s remaining participation in this tournament, and his absence would extend into the club’s World Cup qualifying campaign.