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Soccer's Beckham Escapes Discipline

EINDHOVEN, Netherlands (AP) — David Beckham will not be punished by Europe's governing soccer body for his obscene gesture at taunting fans after England's loss to Portugal.

Beckham, a constant target by rival fans in the English league, responded to the abuse by raising a finger as he left the field following the 3-2 loss in the European Championships on Monday.

The picture was splashed on the front page of many English newspapers Tuesday.

A UEFA spokesman said no disciplinary action will be taken against Beckham because he was not cited in the postgame reports of the referee crew.

English soccer officials blamed the offending English fans for ``disgusting foul-mouthed abuse.''

``It is fair to say that everybody who heard what was being said was deeply shocked that their own people could have behaved in such a way,'' English Football Association spokesman Steve Double said. ``We believe they were drunk.''

Beckham escaped disciplinary action last season after a similar gesture to fans of Leeds United who were insulting his wife, pop star Victoria Adams of the Spice Girls.

In 1998, Beckham was ejected for kicking Argentina's Diego Simeone in the World Cup, a game England lost in a penalty-kick shootout.

The loss to Portugal, in which England squandered a 2-0 lead, prompted widespread disgust in English newspapers.

The front page of The Daily Mirror tabloid read: ``Outplayed, outclassed, outthought — Out?''

``Defeat leaves England at rock bottom,'' said a headline in The Times.
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