Tottenham midfielder Dele Alli has been charged by the Football Association over his social media post mocking the coronavirus.
Alli posted a video on Snapchat poking fun at the deadly virus while also singling out an Asian man in an airport earlier this month.
He hastily deleted the video and then posted a separate apology on Chinese platform Weibo.
The FA wrote to him seeking his observations and has now decided to charge him with misconduct.
If he is found guilty, the 23-year-old could face a hefty fine and a suspension, which would be another blow to Tottenham manager Jose Mourinho.
A statement from the governing body read: “Dele Alli has been charged with misconduct for a breach of FA Rule E3 in relation to a social media post.
“It is alleged that the Tottenham Hotspur midfielder’s post breaches FA Rule E3(1) as it was insulting and/or improper and/or brought the game into disrepute.
“It is further alleged that the post constitutes an “Aggravated Breach”, which is defined in FA Rule E3(2), as it included a reference, whether express or implied, to race and/or colour and/or ethnic origin and/or nationality.
“He has until Thursday 5 March 2020 to provide a response.”
Any ruling would be subject to an appeal which means the situation could still drag on into the middle of March.
Alli would have been hoping a swift apology might have been enough to avoid a charge, but he is now facing sanction, with the FA setting precedent earlier this season when banning Manchester City’s Bernardo Silva for a similar offence.
He posted on Weibo: “It wasn’t funny and I realised that immediately and took it down. I let myself down and the club.
“I don’t want you to have that impression of me because it wasn’t funny and I realised that straight away and took it down.
“It isn’t something that should be joked about. I’m sending all my love and all my thoughts and prayers to everyone in China.”
His boss Mourinho will be dreading a ban as it would leave him with even less options in attack following possible season-ending injuries to Harry Kane and Son Heung-min.
Mourinho has previously said: “I feel that (a ban) would be unnecessary, but I am nobody. In relation to these decisions, I am nobody.
“I am somebody in relation to Dele’s process of, let’s say, professional education and I felt it so, so easy because of the way he reacted.
“So I think it is unnecessary because the player understands the naivety of the situation, the player is a good guy, the player even in the dressing room has a big Asian friend that he loves.
“So there was no intention at all. He immediately regrets, immediately makes a public apology. I feel it is unnecessary but I am nobody.”