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Underwear prank costs Euro 2012 soccer player a 1-match ban


WARSAW, Poland >> Nicklas Bendtner paid a heavy price for his underpants on Monday.

The Denmark forward was banned for one 2014 World Cup qualifying match and UEFA also fined him $100,000 ($126,000 U.S. dollars) for revealing an unofficial sponsor’s name on his underwear while celebrating a goal at the European Championship.

UEFA said its disciplinary panel found the 24-year-old Bendtner guilty of "improper conduct." The punishment rules him out of the Danes’ opening World Cup qualifier, at home to the Czech Republic on Sept. 8.

In comments to Denmark’s TV2 News as the team returned to Copenhagen after exiting Euro 2012 on Sunday, Bendtner said he would "appeal the decision and take it from there."

The Danish football association has agreed to help the forward with legal advice, but it has also taken a dim view of the forward’s stunt. The Danes have official ties to a rival gambling company and expressed its unhappiness to Bendtner in Poland last week.

Bendtner has now been advised not to contact the gambling firm, association spokesman Lars Berendt said. Bendtner also was told "not to receive any kind of full or partial compensation or otherwise reimbursement from this company," Berendt wrote in a statement emailed to The Associated Press.

Though Bendtner must file his appeal as an individual, Danish officials advised him to challenge the size of the penalty and will help him through the legal process, Berendt said.

Bendtner’s financial penalty is the second highest imposed by UEFA at Euro 2012. The Russian football association was fined A120,000 ($151,000) after its fans attacked stadium stewards in Wroclaw following the team’s group game against the Czech Republic.

Bendtner raised his shirt and lowered the top of his shorts slightly, revealing the name of a betting firm across the top of his underpants, after scoring his second goal in a 3-2 loss against Portugal last Wednesday.

The laws of football managed by FIFA relating to players’ equipment also state that players "must not reveal undergarments showing slogans or advertising."

UEFA tournament rules also bar ambush marketing by unofficial sponsors or advertising on players’ kit. European Championship matches typically get average worldwide ratings of 150 million television viewers, who are counted if they watch at least 30 minutes of a game.

The Irish gambling firm Paddy Power, which based a marketing campaign around the "lucky pants" later worn by Bendtner, said it would support his appeal.

"This is a hysterical and deeply cynical move by UEFA dictated by pure commercialism and is a far greater penalty than recent UEFA fines for far more serious incidents," the company said in a statement on its website.

At Euro 2008, UEFA fined the Croatian football association 20,000 Swiss francs (then $17,900, A12,570) for fans "displaying a racist banner and showing racist conduct" toward Turkish fans during a quarterfinal match.

Denmark was eliminated from Euro 2012 after losing to Germany 2-1.

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