By Tony Hughes
Moussa Dembele could be slapped with a seven-match ban for his attempt to gouge Diego Costa’s eye, according to a report.
The Belgium international has been charged with violent conduct by the Football Association in the wake of the explosive 2-2 draw between Tottenham and Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Monday night.
Television replays appeared to show Dembele gouge the eye area of Costa during the touchline bust-up that involved players and management staff from both teams.
FA chiefs deem the offence worthy of a greater punishment than the standard three-match suspension that usually applies to violent conduct charges.
That means, if found guilty, Dembele, who has until 6pm on Thursday to respond to the charge, will miss the two games left this season and the opening weeks of the next.
According to the Mail, the indications are that the central midfielder could be banned for as many as seven matches.
“Mousa Dembele has been charged for an alleged act of violent conduct which was not seen by the match officials but caught on video during the same game,” read an FA statement.
“The Tottenham Hotspur midfielder was involved in an incident with Chelsea’s Diego Costa near the end of the first half. Further, it is alleged the player’s behaviour constituted violent conduct in circumstances where the standard punishment of three matches that would otherwise apply is clearly insufficient.”
If Dembele was slapped with a seven-match suspension, he would miss the last two games of this season and the first five domestic matches of 2016-17, sidelining him until September.
The first-half flashpoint between Dembele and Costa was missed by referee Mark Clattenburg — but is being treated as an “extraordinary event” — leaving the way clear for the FA to throw the book at Belgian Dembele.
If he is hit with a 10-match ban, the key midfielder would miss the rest of this season – Spurs have two matches to play – and would not play a domestic match until October.
Dembele appeared to claw at Diego Costa’s eye in one of a number of flashpoints as tensions boiled over with Spurs heading into half-time with a 2-0 lead thanks to goals from Harry Kane and Heung-Min Son.
Willian began a fracas by the touchline after he shoved Danny Rose by the touchline following a strong challenge from the England international.
Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino looked to immediately quell the flashpoint only to become embroiled in what became a larger melee.
Both sets of benches and players got involved but Dembele and Costa’s tussle went under the radar of the referee, an attack that would have been a certain red card for the Belgian had it not been missed.
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