Gareth Southgate welcomes ‘common-sense’ verdict over Jude Bellingham gesture

Gareth Southgate claimed UEFA’s decision to hand Jude Bellingham a suspended one-match ban for a gesture in the Euro 2024 last-16 win over Slovakia was a “common-sense” call but does not feel he needs to talk to the England midfielder about the incident.

Bellingham has been cleared to play in Saturday’s quarter-final against Switzerland after an investigation into a gesture seemingly made in the direction of the Slovakia bench as he celebrated his overhead kick goal to take the tie to extra time.

The Real Madrid star insisted in a social media post that the gesture was “an inside joke towards some close friends”, but UEFA opened an investigation on Monday to determine whether the gesture “violated the basic rules of decent conduct”.

“I thought it was a common-sense decision,” England manager Southgate said of the punishment, which saw Bellingham handed a 30,000 euros (£25,400) fine as well as the suspended ban, which will be triggered by any further offence within one year.

“Clearly when you score a goal of the quality that he did at the moment he did at the age he is, you are going to have an incredible rush of adrenaline. I think there was no intent in the gesture towards anybody other than the communication he has with his family.

“So from our perspective, we thought it was a sensible outcome. I speak to players all the time. I don’t feel a particular need to spend time with Jude on that. He is aware of the investigation and he is an intelligent guy.”

The Football Association was also fined a total of 11,000 euros (£9,000) for crowd disturbances and the lighting of fireworks by supporters during the Slovakia match.

Jude Bellingham smiles during England training at their Spa & Golf Resort Weimarer Land base
Bellingham smiles during England training at their Spa & Golf Resort Weimarer Land base (Adam Davy/PA)

Southgate also hailed Bellingham’s mature outlook, with the LaLiga player of the season turning 21 during the Euros, and praised him for overcoming “a crisis” to be England’s saviour against Slovakia.

“Jude is an incredible boy to work with. The maturity that he has, how he deals with everything that is put in front of him,” Southgate said of Bellingham, who is a booking away from a one-match ban.

“The ability to impact games in the most important moments. The maturity that he has to deal with a world that is pretty much different to everyone else’s in the squad. I have a really good relationship with him. We talk, as I talk with all of the boys.

“But I do recognise there’s a lot of spotlight on him and I think he knows I’m there to support and help him as much as I can, as all the players would feel.

“I’m so pleased with how he responded in the last game to a couple of quieter games which in his world became a crisis. He’s super-motivated to help us win the game tomorrow night.

“Generally speaking, across all tournaments our discipline has been good. That is important. You don’t want to lose players on disciplinary issues.

“The yellow cards obviously get wiped after tomorrow night, but equally players have to make challenges and they can’t be going in half-heartedly, looking to avoid a suspension.

“So we’ve got to trust them to play the way they normally do and hope the right decisions are made at the right times.”

Turkey’s Merih Demiral, right, makes a 'wolf' shape with each hand after scoring his side’s second goal against Austria
Turkey’s Merih Demiral has been banned for his ‘wolf’ salute after his second goal against Austria (Adam Davy/PA)

Merih Demiral, whose brace helped Turkey overcome Austria and book their place in the quarter-finals, has been suspended for two matches over a wolf salute he made towards the crowd at the match in Leipzig on Tuesday.

The salute is recognised as being linked to the far-right movement in Turkey.

UEFA said Demiral had been suspended for “failing to comply with the general principles of conduct, for violating the basic rules of decent conduct, for using sports events for manifestations of a non-sporting nature and for bringing the sport of football into disrepute”.