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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Dec, 7, 2006

Atouba suspended over gesture but stays at HSV

BERLIN, Dec 7 (Reuters) - Hamburg SV fined and suspended defender Thimothee Atouba for two league matches on Thursday for making offensive gestures to fans after his substitution against CSKA Moscow.

Coach Thomas Doll said there was no excuse for Atouba's actions in Hamburg's 3-2 Champions League victory over CSKA on Wednesday. The Cameroon defender gave the 'Stinkefinger' (middle finger) to Hamburg fans after he came off in the 69th minute.

'The reaction was inexcusable,' Doll said. 'But when a player faces jeering from all 50,000 spectators, then it hurts, especially because he's an African.

'It's a sensitive situation and there is no reason to nail him to a wall publicly any further... But he will continue to play football for us.'

HSV said Atouba will pay an unspecified fine. It released a statement quoting Atouba: 'I know that I caused great harm to the club and team. I'm aware of my responsibility to HSV.'

Atouba, who had given away a penalty in the 23rd minute that put Hamburg behind 1-0 and was later beaten by Yuri Zhirkov in the 65th minute that gave Moscow a 2-1 lead, faced loud jeers every time he touched the ball after the second Moscow goal.

When replaced in the 69th minute, the jeers increased. After reaching the sideline, Atouba repeatedly made the gesture to fans. Some fans were filmed throwing drinks at him. Television replays also showed Atouba repeating a four-letter English word.

The referee then showed Atouba a red card.

Club captain Rafael van der Vaart, who scored Hamburg's equaliser with six minutes to go and set up Boubacar Sanogo for the winner in the final minute, defended his team mate.

'It's not right that the whole stadium jeers Timmy. It's normal that it hurt him and hurt the whole team.'

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