BERLIN (AP) — Borussia Mönchengladbach striker Marcus Thuram has been banned for five games for spitting in the face of a Hoffenheim opponent in the Bundesliga.
The German football federation said on Monday the ban applies to the German Cup and Bundesliga and that a further one-game ban is suspended on condition of good behavior until Dec. 21, 2021.
Thuram spat in defender Stefan Posch’s face from close range during an argument over a tackle from Posch. Referee Frank Willenborg consulted video and sent off Thuram and booked Posch. Hoffenheim won 2-1 on Saturday.
Thuram was also fined 40,000 euros ($50,000) by the federation on Monday. Gladbach had already fined the French player a month’s wages that will be donated to a social cause.
Gladbach sporting director Max Eberl said on Sunday the spitting incident was uncharacteristic of Thuram, the son of French World Cup winner Lilian Thuram, who joined the club from Guingamp in 2019.
The 23-year-old Thuram was praised in May for taking a knee in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement amid protests over the killing of George Floyd.
“Marcus is devastated and he assured me that he did not deliberately spit at Stefan Posch. He told me that during an argument with Stefan Posch he cursed several times in French and that he involuntarily spat during a torrent of words and great excitement,” said Eberl, who said it didn’t change the incident.
“Marcus made a huge mistake for which he’ll be punished. Marcus remains the person we know and we won’t let him fall.”
Thuram was criticized by his Gladbach teammates and coach after the game and he apologized on Instagram late Saturday.
“Today something took place that is not in my character and must never happen. I reacted to an opponent in a wrong way and something occurred accidentally and not intentionally,” Thuram wrote. “I apologize to everyone, to Stefan Posch, to my opponents, to my teammates, to my family and to all those who saw my reaction. Of course, I accept all the consequences of my gesture.”
The federation issued a similar punishment to Santiago Ascacíbar in April 2019 after the former Stuttgart player spat at Kai Havertz, who was playing for Bayer Leverkusen at the time. Ascacíbar has since switched to Hertha Berlin.