Dele Alli to miss Premier League restart as Tottenham star banned over COVID-19 ‘joke’

Dele Alli will be forced to sit out of Tottenham’s clash with Manchester United on their return to Premier League action next week.

Tottenham will be without Dele Alli against Manchester United next Friday (8.15pm) with the midfielder having been issued a one-match ban for a controversial social media post about the coronavirus.

Spurs will be without Alli for their first Premier League match in over three months, with the United Kingdom having been in lockdown due to COVID-19, which has killed more than 40,000 people in the UK.

The England international has been issued a £50,000 fine in addition and will be ordered to take an education course.

Back in February, Alli posted a video of himself on his Snapchat wearing a face mask before turning the camera towards an unsuspecting Asian man in an airport departure lounge, with the caption: ‘Corona whattttt, please listen with volume.’

A follow-up post with a picture of antiseptic hand wash added: ‘This virus gunna have to be quicker than that to catch me.’

Alli deleted both posts and in an eventual apology said: “I’d like to apologise for the video I posted on Snapchat yesterday.

“It wasn’t funny. I realised that immediately and took it down. I let myself down and the club. I don’t want you guys to have that impression of me.

“It isn’t something that should be joked about. Sending all my love and thoughts and prayers for everyone in China.”

But the 23-year-old has been issued a punishment by English football’s governing body for the video.

An FA statement read: “Dele Alli has been suspended for one match with immediate effect, fined £50,000 and must undertake an education course following a breach of FA Rule E3.

“The Tottenham Hotspur FC player denied that a social media post breached FA Rule E3(1), as it was insulting and/or improper and/or brought the game into disrepute, and constituted an “Aggravated Breach”, which is defined in FA Rule E3(2), as it included a reference, whether express or implied, to race and/or colour and/or ethnic origin and/or nationality.

“However, it was subsequently found proven by an independent Regulatory Commission.”

According to the FA, Alli said that he “very quickly realised that may have the potential to cause upset because no one should be making jokes about people all over the world catching coronavirus, especially when people have lost their lives as a result of it”.

He added that he “understands even on his private account it was an insensitive video to share at a time when many others are suffering”.

The attacking midfielder said: “In response to the FA decision, I would like to apologise again for any offence caused by my behaviour.

“It was an extremely poorly judged joke about a virus that has now affected us more than we could ever have imagined.

“I’m grateful that The FA has confirmed that my actions were not racist because I despise racism of any kind.

“We all need to be mindful of the words and actions we use and how they can be perceived by others.”

Alli’s absence will be a blow to Jose Mourinho and co. as they return to action for the first time since March 10, when they lost to RB Leipzig in the Champions League.

The north London side sit eighth in the league, seven points off of fourth-placed Chelsea.

But Spurs – who had not won any of their last three top-flight matches before the coronavirus pandemic – will be boosted by the return to fitness of talismanic striker Harry Kane.

Kane is expected to lead the line against United at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium next week, with Spurs looking for a win that would take them within a point of the Red Devils, who sit fifth.