Fifa launches inquiry into Steven Naismith elbow clash
THE WORLD Cup hopes of Scotland and manager Craig Levein could be dealt a significant blow after it emerged that Steven Naismith is facing a possible ban for next month’s key double-header against Wales and Belgium because of an apparent off-the-ball elbow against Serbia earlier this month.
Fifa yesterday revealed they have started “disciplinary proceedings” against the Everton striker after TV pictures seemed to catch him lashing out at opponent Srdan Mijailovic during the 0-0 draw at Hampden on 8 September. The incident was missed by Swedish referee Jonas Eriksson and reports later suggested that match delegate Christian Schmolzer, a former Austrian goalkeeper, did not included the flash-point in his report to Fifa.
Serbia manager Sinisa Mihajlovic was unperturbed by the flare-up, insisting “this is football, not ballet”, and Mijailovic appeared to excuse Naismith when he said the apparent clash “maybe wasn’t intentional”. It appeared the former Rangers and Kilmarnock player had escaped punishment when he appeared as a late substitute in the 1-1 draw with Macedonia three days later.
However, with Fifa able to ‘prosecute’ for infringements up to two years later, the disciplinary committee is set to rule on the incident thanks to Article 84, which gives the committee responsibility for “sanctioning serious infringements which have escaped the match officials’ attention”.
A Fifa spokesperson said: “Fifa can confirm that it has now opened disciplinary proceedings against Steven Naismith.”
Despite the world governing body refusing to comment further on the timescale, “as it is a legal process”, it is likely the proceedings will be decided ahead of the crucial meeting with Wales in Cardiff on 12 October and the encounter with group favourites Belgium in Brussels four days later. If Naismith is found guilty of misconduct, sanctions available include a suspension of up to three games, a fine, a warning and/or a reprimand.
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