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Argentina fined for Falklands banner



FIFA has fined the Argentine FA 30,000 Swiss francs (19,330 pounds) after members of the national team were pictured standing behind a political banner before a World Cup warm-up match.

World football's governing body imposed the punishment after several players stood behind a banner bearing the slogan "Las Malvinas son Argentinas" ("The Falklands are Argentine") on the pitch before a Buenos Aires friendly win against Slovenia on June 7.

Britain has ruled the Falklands since 1833, but the islands' sovereignty has been the source of a long dispute which escalated with an Argentine invasion in 1982. That led to a war that cost the lives of 255 British and approximately 650 Argentine soldiers.

In June, FIFA officials said disciplinary proceedings had been opened against the Argentine FA (AFA) after the banner incident.

FIFA does not allow political messages during matches.

Tensions over the Falklands -- which have recently been fuelled by Argentine President Cristina Fernandez -- had been prominent during the 1982 and 1986 World Cups.

Files have emerged showing that the British government had considered pulling England, Scotland and Northern Ireland out of the 1982 tournament in Spain because of concerns over a meeting with Argentina, although all four teams took part and no meeting came to pass.

During the 1986 tournament in Mexico, Argentine fans burned Union Jack flags and a prominent Buenos Aires politician submitted a request for a minute's silence for the slain Argentine soldiers before England and Argentina met in the quarterfinal.

That match saw Argentina win 2-1 courtesy of two goals from Diego Maradona, including the infamous "Hand of God" goal. He later wrote in "El Diego: The Autobiography of the World's Greatest Footballer": "We blamed the English players for everything that happened, for all the suffering of the Argentine people...

"Before the match, we said football had nothing to do with the Malvinas war. But we knew a lot of Argentine kids died, shot down like little birds. This was revenge."

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.
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