UEFA are to investigate Marko Arnautovic's goal celebration against North Macedonia on Sunday, during which he is alleged to have used discriminatory language.
Arnautovic reacted angrily after netting Austria's second goal in a 2-0 win at Euro 2020, seemingly aiming comments at opposition player Ezgjan Alioski - who is of Albanian descent. The forward, who has a Serbian father, was eventually subdued by captain David Alaba.
After the game Arnautovic denied using racist terms, releasing a statement which read: "There were some heated words yesterday in the emotions of the game for which I would like to apologise – especially to my friends from North Macedonia and Albania. 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."
However, his claims were later disputed by the Football Federation of Macedonia (FFM), who released their own version of events.
"The FFM strongly condemns the nationalistic outburst of Austrian player Marko Arnautovic, after a goal scored in yesterday’s match, addressed to Ezgjan Alioski,” a statement said. “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."
As reported by The Guardian, UEFA are now set to step in. An ethics and disciplinary inspector has been appointed to investigate the incident and Arnautovic could be banned if he is judged to have used discriminatory terms.
This would be a blow to Austria's slim Euro 2020 chances with their other striker, Sasa Kalajdzic, enduring a difficult evening against North Macedonia.