NYON: Austria forward Marko Arnautovic is in trouble with European federation UEFA over alleged offensive comments in Sunday’s 3-1 victory over North Macedonia at Euro 2020.

The North Macedonia federation registered a formal complaint with UEFA over the player’s behaviour.

A UEFA statement responded: “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.”

The player risks an international suspension at club and national team level of up to 10 matches.

Arnautovic, after scoring his country’s third goal, had to be restrained by captain David Alaba as he celebrated aggressively in front of supporters. Alaba was seen trying to put his hand over the mouth of the the former West Ham and Stoke City striker.

Reports in Serbia claim that Arnautovic made a derogatory comment towards North Macedonia’s players of Albanian heritage who included the nearby Ezdjan Alioski.

Austria’s sporting director Peter Schottel defended the player after the match, insisting any comments made had simply been “trash talk” that were “nothing to be do with politics”.

On Monday Arnautovic apologised on Instagram for his celebration but denied using racist language.

Later, however, the North Macedonia FA formally condemned “the nationalistic outbreak of Austrian representative Marko Arnautovic, after a goal scored in yesterday’s match with Macedonia addressed to Macedonian representative Ezdjan Alioski.

“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.”

The controversy is the latest in a long string of incidents arising out of the ongoing tensions in the Balkans.