Switzerland have confirmed that striker Alexander Frei will miss tonight’s crucial Euro 2004 Group B match with France in Coimbra.
Frei has been at the centre of a disciplinary row since last Thursday’s Group B match with England, when the Swiss were defeated 3-0.
TV evidence showed Frei appearing to spit at England midfielder Steven Gerrard during the game, and UEFA have been evaluating the evidence since Thursday evening.
UEFA initially cleared the Rennes striker of any wrongdoing due to a lack of evidence and the fact that no complaint was received from either Gerrard or the English FA. Frei protested his innocence, claiming he was only guilty of verbal abuse.
However, new evidence came to light on Sunday evening, prompting the Swiss FA to accept UEFA’s recommendation that Frei should be suspended provisionally for this evening’s match pending an appeal.
A Swiss statement was released late on Monday morning, confirming the player’s suspension.
“Alexander Frei and the Swiss FA have decided that he will not play tonight no matter what the UEFA decision is on the spitting incident,” the statement read.
Frei’s suspension comes just days after Italian forward Francesco Totti was banned for 3 matches for spitting at Denmark’s Christian Poulsen.
Seen as Switzerland’s main striker, Frei will be sorely missed this evening. The Swiss need to beat holders France to retain their slim hopes of reaching the knockout stages.
His place in the starting lineup is likely to be filled by Daniel Gygax.