Switzerland national soccer team coach Ottmar Hitzfeld banned by FIFA for 2 qualifiers

ZURICH (AP) — Switzerland coach Ottmar Hitzfeld was suspended for two World Cup qualifying matches on Tuesday for making an offensive gesture at the referee during a match. 

FIFA said Hitzfeld breached rules on "offensive behavior" during a home qualifier against Norway on Oct. 12. 

The veteran German coach is barred from working at Group E leader Switzerland's next two qualifiers, which are both against last-place Cyprus. 

"This decision cannot be appealed and is therefore final and binding," FIFA said in a statement announcing its disciplinary panel's ruling. 

FIFA ordered Hitzfeld to pay a 7,000 Swiss francs ($7,450) fine plus 1,000 Swiss francs ($1,060) in costs for the disciplinary process. 

Swiss media published images of Hitzfeld making a hand gesture in the first half of a 1-1 draw against Norway in Bern. 

Hitzfeld later expressed his frustration at decisions made by Spanish referee David Fernandez Borbalan. 

Switzerland is unbeaten in qualifying and leads its group by three points from Norway after four of 10 matches. 

The Swiss travel to face Cyprus on March 23, and host the return match on June 8. 

Hitzfeld has coached Switzerland since 2008 after an illustrious club coaching career that began in his adopted country. 

He returned to Germany and won the Champions League in 1997 with Borussia Dortmund and in 2001 with Bayern Munich. 

Hitzfeld joins Ernst Happel (Feyenoord, Hamburger SV) and Jose Mourinho (FC Porto, Inter Milan) as the only coaches to lead different clubs to become European champion.