• Thursday, July 25, 2024

FOOTBALL

UEFA to probe Bellingham’s Euro celebration gesture

Bellingham, 21, scored a 95th-minute equaliser to push the game into extra time. (Photo: Getty Images)

By: EasternEye

UEFA will investigate England midfielder Jude Bellingham for potential indecent conduct after he was seen grabbing his crotch while looking at the crowd following a last-16 victory over Slovakia at Euro 2024.

Bellingham, 21, scored a 95th-minute equaliser to push the game into extra time. After his goal, he gestured towards England fans who had been critical, and made the crotch gesture after the final whistle with the game won 2-1.

“UEFA Ethics and Disciplinary Inspectors will conduct a disciplinary investigation regarding a potential violation of the basic rules of decent conduct by the English Football Association player, Jude Bellingham, having allegedly occurred in the scope of this match,” UEFA said in a statement on Monday.

Bellingham’s goal celebration appeared to be an angry message to England fans, while the crotch gesture was seen by some spectators as an insult to Slovakia. Bellingham said on social media that he was having a laugh with friends. “An inside joke gesture towards some close friends who were at the game. Nothing but respect for how that Slovakia team played tonight,” he said.

There was no immediate reaction from Bellingham or the English Football Association to UEFA’s statement. The Real Madrid player has been praised for his maturity but acknowledged after the Slovakia game that he felt an explosion of emotion after his bicycle-kick goal, given days of heavy criticism of England on social media. “People talk a lot of rubbish and it’s nice that, when you deliver, you can give them a little bit back,” he told reporters shortly after the game in Gelsenkirchen on Sunday.

He was walking alongside captain and fellow goalscorer Harry Kane when he kissed his hand and lowered it to his groin, according to footage of the players at the end of the game. UEFA also said it was charging England’s FA for their fans’ lighting of fireworks and other disorder. European football’s body has an array of possible sanctions at its disposal, from fines to suspensions. Albania’s Mirlind Daku was banned for two games after leading fans in offensive chants.

England, who have had inconsistent displays despite being among the pre-tournament favourites, face Switzerland in the quarter-finals on Saturday.

(With inputs from Reuters)

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