Football: Real clear di Maria over gesture

MADRID (AFP) - Real Madrid winger Angel di Maria has been cleared of any wrongdoing by the club over a gesture he made after being substituted during their 3-0 win over Celta Vigo this week, the Spanish football giants said on Thursday.

He appeared to grab his genitals after being whistled by the crowd at the Bernabeu as he was replaced by Gareth Bale with 25 minutes remaining in Monday's tie.

But Real said in a statement on Thursday that an investigation by the club failed to establish any "fault" by the player and he would not be punished.

Coach Carlo Ancelotti added that the affair was now "closed" following an apology made by the player.

The Argentinian had denied there was any malice intended in the gesture. "I made a normal gesture as I was leaving the field," he told the club's website.

"I didn't mean it to be aimed at the fans nor the coach as people are saying. It was a normal gesture that any man would do, especially when you are running."

Real Madrid added: "In light of the investigation, it cannot be concluded that di Maria is responsible for carrying out offensive and contemptuous gestures towards the public at the Santiago Bernabeu on Jan 6 and, therefore, he has committed any fault deserving disciplinary action."

Di Maria is expected to start on the bench on Thursday night at the Bernabeu for the Copa del Rey last-16 tie against Osasuna.

He has seen his first-team opportunities limited since the arrival of Bale from Tottenham Hotspur in September.

The 25-year-old has been linked with a move away from Madrid in the January transfer window with free-spending Ligue 1 side Monaco reportedly interested.

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