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Gareth Bale Could Face 12-Match Ban for 'Obscene' Celebration in Atletico Win

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistFebruary 14, 2019

MADRID, SPAIN - FEBRUARY 9: (L-R) Santiago Arias of Atletico Madrid, Gareth Bale of Real Madrid during the La Liga Santander  match between Atletico Madrid v Real Madrid at the Estadio Wanda Metropolitano on February 9, 2019 in Madrid Spain (Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images)
Soccrates Images/Getty Images

Gareth Bale's celebration after scoring his 100th Real Madrid goal could cost the 29-year-old as many as 12 matches this season if La Liga and the Spanish Football Association judge his actions were "obscene."

Bale celebrated after netting the clinching goal in Los Blancos' 3-1 win away to city rivals Atletico Madrid on Saturday. What followed was interpreted by some as "a gesture of possible obscene and derogatory meaning," per a statement from La Liga (h/t Goal's Chris Burton).

The Wales international was said to have "gestured in the direction of fans close to the sideline when celebrating after taking abuse from the terraces," according to Burton.

According to the BBC: "Bale raised his bent arm and hit it with his other hand, a gesture that is considered offensive in Spain."

Bale's interaction with rivals fans at the Wanda Metropolitano has caused controversy.
Bale's interaction with rivals fans at the Wanda Metropolitano has caused controversy.Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

While Bale's celebration didn't make it into the referee's report, it has been reported to the league for investigation.

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The Spanish top flight revealed a suspension of as little as four or as many 12 games will be levied on Bale if the former Tottenham Hotspur star is deemed to have caused offence.

Another point from the statement read: "If the animosity is from the public, the suspension will be from one to three parties (games) or for a period of up to one month."

The language about the nature of the deliberations is somewhat complex:

Dermot Corrigan @dermotmcorrigan

You wouldn't wish on your worse enemy the job of translating statements about disciplinary issues from the various Spanish football authorities....

The distinction concerns whether Bale meant to anger the Atletico fans or if his celebration inadvertently caused consternation among the home support.

Burton also noted how La Liga won't be the only governing body sitting in judgement on Bale's actions. The Spanish FA will ultimately rubber stamp any punishment, with La Liga said to be "confident" Bale will only be hit with a three-match ban.

A ban of any length would come at the worst possible time for Bale. He has been slowly and steadily working his way back into the graces of manager Santiago Solari amid a campaign otherwise defined by injuries and middling form.

Bale has been working to impress Solari.
Bale has been working to impress Solari.Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images

After coming off the bench against Atleti and bringing up a century of goals, Bale was handed a start for Wednesday's 2-1 win away to Ajax in the UEFA Champions League last 16.

The fact he only lasted 61 minutes was a tacit reminder of not only Bale's shaky fitness record, but also of Real no longer being as reliant on him. Solari has many other wide forwards he can count on.

Lucas Vazquez replaced Bale, while 18-year-old Vinicius Junior, who assisted Karim Benzema's winner in Amsterdam, is developing rapidly and is already threatening Bale's place:

Euan McTear @emctear

Stat of the day. Vinicius Junior has more assists in three Champions League appearances than Paulo Dybala and Radamel Falcao combined have ever had.

The Spanish Football Podcast @tsf_podcast

Interesting that Bale plays on the right tonight and Vinicius on the left. Solari likes Bale on the left, as Vinicius admitted the other day...

Bale needs to be maximising the minutes available to him before Real begin to think they can live without a player who broke the world transfer record when he moved to the Spanish capital back in 2013.

The length of any ban will surely have crucial implications for the rest of Bale's career in Spain.   

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