Sweden’s Andreas Granqvist could reportedly face a second huge fine after repeatedly breaching one of the World Cup’s more obscure rules.
The captain has been seen wearing unauthorised socks during the tournament and, despite an initial fine and a warning from FIFA, wore them again in his team’s quarter-final defeat to England.
The ‘Trusox’ socks provide extra grip and comfort and are popular with stars such as Luis Suarez, Gareth Bale and Radamel Falcao.
However, FIFA have picked up on the fact the company behind the socks are receiving remarkable free exposure due to the prominent black dot design that’s clearly visible above Granqvist’s boot.
The Sun reports the skipper is now in FIFA’s sights for the same reason Sweden were already sanctioned AU$100,000 earlier in the World Cup.
Players and teams are not allowed to display unauthorised logos or brands, especially those in the same industry as the governing body’s own high-profile sponsors.
“The FIFA Disciplinary Committee has sanctioned the Swedish Football Association with a fine of CHF 70,000 and a warning for breaching the Media and Marketing Regulations and the FIFA Equipment Regulations,” read a statement released late last week.
“FIFA had previously requested the Swedish Football Association to cease the activity that led to the sanction.
“In particular, members of the Swedish delegation displayed unauthorised commercial branding on playing equipment items during the 2018 FIFA World Cup round of 16 match between Sweden and Switzerland.”
Sports law expert explains FIFA’s controversial fines
The World Cup rulings in FIFA’s disciplinary court have not always been easy to comprehend.
Sweden were slugged 70,000 Swiss francs ($A95,000) for players wearing non-approved socks and Croatia were hit with the same penalty when a player took a non-sponsor’s drink onto the field.
Yet a Russia fan’s neo-Nazi banner and a Serbian World War II-era nationalist symbol waved inside venue drew only 10,000 Swiss francs ($14,000) fines, paid by their national soccer bodies which are responsible for fan misconduct at games.
Commercial rules can seem to be enforced more strictly than bad behaviour and Diego Maradona appears to enjoy a unique code of conduct of his own.
The Argentine great, a paid FIFA ambassador, used Facebook to explain away allegations of racism and offensive incidents from VIP seats, charges that have previously led to players being banned.
At times, the priorities and consistency in FIFA decisions can look a curious form of World Cup justice.
Even before the World Cup, FIFA was criticised by the anti-discrimination group Kick It Out for prioritising commercial gain over eliminating racism from the sport.
But sports law expert James Kitching says FIFA’s approach makes some sense because the World Cup depends on sponsors and broadcasters paying for exclusive deals.
“A financial sanction is always heavy in a commercial case because exclusivity is something Coca Cola or Adidas pays millions of dollars for,” Kitching, the former head of sports legal affairs at the Asian Football Confederation, told The Associated Press.
The hefty fines imposed on Sweden and Croatia followed repeated warnings from FIFA.
“If they are not seen to protect it (sponsor exclusivity), they put everything at risk,” Kitching said.