Argentina’s national football team is to be investigated by FIFA after players posed with a banner declaring that “Las Malvinas son Argentinas” (“The Falklands are Argentinian”).
The message was displayed for the cameras ahead of a World Cup warm-up friendly against Slovenia on Saturday, with just one week to go before the team’s opening match in Brazil.
Fifa has now said that it will instruct its lawyers to review the incident, after viewers complained that it seemed to clearly break the organisation’s strict rules banning political statements at matches.
The Argentinian FA could face sanctions over the banner if found guilty, Fifa officials said.
It is often unfurled before Argentina play international matches, and apparently indicates the players’ support of the country’s claims to sovereignty over the islands, which have been ruled by Britain since 1833.
But appearing so close to the biggest event in the footballing calendar has brought it far greater attention than usual – and no small amount of anger among social media users.
The incident reignited the country’s rivalry with England, whose players were reportedly instructed by the FA not to answer any questions concerning the banner.
But the incident could make for an interesting semi-final – or even final – if England were to manage to either win their group or progress all the way to the last match from second. Either scenario, however unlikely, could see them face Argentina in what would be an historic showdown.