The most controversial moment in the Premier League over the past few days did not take place on the pitch but off it when Dele Alli joked about the recent coronavirus disease which has spread in China.
Alli was spending time off as the winter break took hold in the Premier League and Tottenham had no games planned. Predictably flying to Dubai Alli posted a video on social media app snapchat, and one really has to wonder what was going through the Tottenham players mind when he did so?
The video posted by Alli showed him wearing a face mask in an airport lounge, before moving the camera to show a man of Asian appearance, and then zooming in on a bottle of antiseptic hand wash.
Looking at both sides of the argument to try and understand why Alli did this, one can see a young man trying to have a laugh about a world story, and perhaps his one big fault is that he made a video of it. Alli isn’t a spiteful and hateful person, but a lot of people would have been offended by his video which came across as being rather stereotypical.
Alli quickly took down the video presumably after reading some of the negative comments and possibly getting contacted by his agent that he had messed up and gone too far. He then had to issue an apology. Alli said: “It wasn’t funny and I realised that immediately and took it down. I let myself down and the club. It isn’t something that should be joked about. I’m sending all my love and all my thoughts and prayers to everyone in China.”
Whilst Alli did apologise there was something in his response that just seemed very generic and it is worrying that Alli a professional football player who millions of fans around the world would look up to would make such a child like error.
Alli has shown to be immature before, on the pitch, and this is something that ex-players have also noticed and spoken out about. Paul Ince did so in 2016 saying: “He’s still got a lot to learn and it’s important that we don’t get too carried away about him. Some of the stuff Dele does is very immature. He makes some silly tackles and he can kick out at people. That’s where he’s got to learn and improve.”
That word immature has followed Alli around and when it is being spoken of you when you are 20 is one thing, but when you are making very silly jokes and posting videos 3 years later it is quite another. Of course Alli is only 23 and most 23 year old’s are making far worse mistakes in life, the difference again is that Alli doesn’t always seem to understand the important public role he is in.
Just a few months ago TV pundit and ex-Liverpool legend Graeme Souness criticised Alli saying: “He needs to ask why Harry Kane has kicked on and handled all the peripheral stuff that comes with being a top player, and he hasn’t. Can he honestly say he’s been fully focused on his football or has he forgotten what made him kick a ball in the first place?”
All of these are very interesting comments by different leading pundits in the media and whilst they may seem negative there is an underlying reason why pundits in England are ready to speak about Alli in this way. That reason is because he is Alli is a superb player when he wants to be. He is the player that can make the difference and take Tottenham and England up to another level. Professionals can see this in him, and so when he lets himself down on or off the pitch it feels like watching wasted potential.
The FA have written to the player asking him to explain his actions and if he is charged he could well be suspended for at least 1 game and be fined. It is likely with the FA having a zero tolerance on social media posts that are deemed to be ‘unhealthy’ that he will face a charge.
Hopefully Alli can kick on and realise that posting jokes about serious issues in the world isn’t what professional sportsman do. And hopefully he can become a consistent enough player for Tottenham too.
In reality his harshest critics are actually his biggest fans.
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