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Bellingham avoids an immediate ban over offensive gesture but gets fined


DUESSELDORF, Germany (AP) — Jude Bellingham has avoided an immediate ban after the England midfielder appeared to make an offensive gesture while celebrating his crucial goal in the win over Slovakia at the European Championship.

Bellingham will be available for the quarterfinal against Switzerland on Saturday after UEFA on Friday imposed a one-game ban but said it “is not immediately enforced and is subject to a probationary period” of a year.

England manager Gareth Southgate accepted the decision and said he didn't feel the need to talk with Bellingham about his behavior in future.

“I thought it was a common-sense decision. Clearly when you score a goal of the quality that he did, at the moment that he did, at the age that he is, you’re going to have an incredible rush of adrenaline,” Southgate said.

“I think there was no intent in the gesture toward anybody other than communication he has with his family, so from our perspective, we thought it was a sensible outcome.”

Southgate added: “I speak to players all the time, so I don’t feel a particular need to spend additional time with Jude on that. He is aware of the investigation and he’s an intelligent guy.”

The Real Madrid midfielder will also have to pay a fine of 30,000 euros ($32,500). UEFA said the punishment was “for violating the basic rules of decent conduct” in the Slovakia game.

A player typically has to serve a suspended ban only “if a further offense of a similar nature is committed during the probationary period,” UEFA's disciplinary regulations state.

Bellingham seemed to make a gesture with his hand toward his crotch after scoring an overhead kick to level the score on Sunday as England went on to win 2-1 in extra time.

Bellingham’s goal with about 80 seconds left in the game saved England from a humiliating exit in the first knockout round.

Bellingham previously denied suggestions he gestured toward the Slovakia bench.

“An inside joke gesture towards some close friends who were at the game. Nothing but respect for how that Slovakia team played tonight,” Bellingham wrote on X.

UEFA also fined England a total of 11,000 euros ($11,900) for crowd disturbances and the “lighting of fireworks” at the Slovakia game.

Five years ago, Cristiano Ronaldo — then playing for Juventus — and Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone were each fined 20,000 euros ($22,700) by UEFA for making obscene gestures during their Champions League matchup.

Disgraced former Spanish soccer chief Luis Rubiales was also involved in a similar incident at the end of the Women’s World Cup final last August. He grabbed his crotch as a victory gesture while Queen Letizia of Spain and Princess Sofía were standing nearby.

That offense was overshadowed soon after when Rubiales kissed Spain forward Jenni Hermoso on the lips without her consent. Rubiales was barred by FIFA from working in soccer until after the men’s 2026 World Cup.

In another case Friday, UEFA banned Turkey defender Merih Demiral for two games after he made a hand sign associated with an ultra-nationalist group while celebrating in the 2-1 win over Austria.


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