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UEFA have confirmed they have opened an investigation into Marko Arnautovic’s celebration during Austria’s 3-1 win over North Macedonia.
The former Stoke and West Ham forward scored Austria’s clinching third goal in the closing moments of their Euro 2020 opener.
Arnautovic, rather than appearing happy about his strike, seemed angry and possibly antagonistic.
He has strongly denied using racist language in the incident, although his Austrian team captain David Alaba appeared to be attempting to restrain him.
On Monday, the 32-year-old posted on his Instagram account: "There were some heated words yesterday in the emotions of the game for which I apologise – especially to the people from North Macedonia and Albania.
Marko Arnautovic had to be restrained by David Alaba as he celebrated his goal against North Macedonia
(Image: Robert Ghement/POOL/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)
"I would like to say one thing very clearly. I AM NOT A RACIST! I have friends in almost every country and I stand for diversity. Everyone who knows me is aware of that."
The football federation of Macedonia (FFM) strongly condemned Arnautovic’s outburst which appeared to be directed towards Leeds star Ezgjan Alioski.
The statement read: “The FFM strongly condemns the nationalistic outburst of Austrian player Marko Arnautovic, after a goal scored in yesterday’s match, addressed to Ezgjan Alioski.
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“At the same time, we inform you that we have submitted an official letter to Uefa demanding the harshest punishment for Arnautovic.
“We are always against nationalism, discrimination and all other forms of insults and outbursts that are not in the spirit of football and values that we all stand together.
“We will always stand up and defend the interests and dignity of Macedonian national players wherever they perform.”
And following that statement, UEFA have announced that they have appointed an Ethics and Disciplinary Inspector to open an investigation.
“In accordance with the Article 31(4) of the UEFA Disciplinary Regulations, an Ethics and Disciplinary Inspector has been appointed to conduct an investigation regarding the incident involving the player Marko Arnautović that occurred during the 2020 European Championship group-stage match between the national teams of Austria and North Macedonia on 13 June 2021,” UEFA confirmed.
The Macedonian FA claimed Arnautovic's outburst was directed at Leeds star Alioski
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“Further information on this matter will be made available in due course.”
Austria are due to take on Netherlands in their next Group C game, knowing any sort of result will all but confirm their place in the knockout stages.
Meanwhile, North Macedonia, the lowest ranked team in the tournament, will be hoping to pick up their first major tournament points when they face Ukraine in Bucharest.