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By ESPN Staff

AFA faces punishment over banner

Argentina players pose in front of a message about the Falkland Islands prior to their home friendly against Slovenia.

FIFA has announced that disciplinary proceedings have been opened against the Argentine FA (AFA) after the national team players displayed a banner relating to the Falklands Islands prior to a friendly against Slovenia earlier this month.

The players stood behind a banner reading "Las Malvinas Son Argentinas" -- "The Falkland Islands are Argentine" -- before the 2-0 victory in La Plata on June 7.

Britain has ruled the Falklands since 1833, but the islands' sovereignty has been the source of a long dispute which escalated with an Argentine invasion in 1982. That led to a war that cost the lives of 255 British and approximately 650 Argentine soldiers.

FIFA does not allow political messages during matches, and a message on the governing body's official website read: "The chairman of the FIFA disciplinary committee has decided to open disciplinary proceedings based on an apparent breach of article 60 of the FIFA stadium and security regulations (prevention of provocative and aggressive actions) and article 52 of the FIFA Disciplinary Code (team misconduct).

"The Argentina FA has been invited to provide its position to the FIFA disciplinary committee, together with any documentary evidence it might deem appropriate. FIFA will communicate any updates on the proceedings in due course."

Tensions over the Falklands -- which have recently been fuelled by Argentine President Cristina Fernandez -- had been prominent during the 1982 and 1986 World Cups.

Files have emerged showing that the British government had considered pulling England, Scotland and Northern Ireland out of the 1982 tournament in Spain because of concerns over a meeting with Argentina, although all four teams took part and no meeting came to pass.

During the 1986 tournament in Mexico, Argentine fans burned Union Jack flags and a prominent Buenos Aires politician submitted a request for a minute's silence for the slain Argentine soldiers before England and Argentina met in the quarterfinal.

That match saw Argentina win 2-1 courtesy of two goals from Diego Maradona, including the infamous "Hand of God" goal, and he later wrote in "El Diego: The Autobiography of the World's Greatest Footballer": "We blamed the English players for everything that happened, for all the suffering of the Argentine people... Before the match, we said football had nothing to do with the Malvinas war. But we knew a lot of Argentine kids died, shot down like little birds. This was revenge."


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