Greek Soccer Player Gets Life Ban Over Nazi Salute

Giorgos Katidis, who plays for AEK Athens, made the gesture after scoring his side’s winning goal against Veria in the Greek Super League on Saturday.

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A Greek soccer player has been banned from his country’s national team for life after making a Nazi salute during a game.

Giorgos Katidis, who plays for AEK Athens, made the gesture towards towards his club’s supporters after scoring the winning goal against Veria in the Greek Super League on Saturday, reports Reuters.

The Hellenic Football Federation—Greek soccer’s governing body—immediately handed Katidis a lifetime ban from the country’s national teams. It said in a statement:

“The player’s action to salute to spectators in a Nazi manner is a severe provocation, insults all the victims of Nazi bestiality and injures the deeply pacifist and human character of the game.”

(MORE: Greek Gloom Deepens After Loss to Germany in Euro 2012)

Katidis apologized and asked to be dropped from the AEK first team, reports Reuters. But he reportedly claimed that his stiff-armed, open-palmed gesture was not intended to have fascist connotations, and that he was merely pointing to injured teammate Michalis Pavlis, who was sitting in the crowd. He later released a statement, as Reuters reports:

“Unfortunately I cannot take the clock back but I want to clarify that I am not a fascist or neo-Nazi or racist. I have a step brother from Puerto Rico and all my family are from the Black Sea and have experienced racism in the worst ways,” he said.

(MORE: Europe’s Right Wing: A Nation-by-Nation Guide to Political Parties and Extremist Groups)

AEK’s German coach Ewald Lienen defended his player, saying that Katidis holds no political views, reports the BBC. “He most likely saw such a salute on the Internet or somewhere else and did it without knowing what it means,” he said.

Katidis’ actions, which caused outrage on social media sites, came at an especially sensitive time: Sunday marked the 70th anniversary of the deportation of Greek Jews to Nazi concentration camps during the Second World War, as Reuters notes.

It also comes amid a rising tide of ultranationalism in Greece amid the country’s crippling financial crisis. Golden Dawn, a political party with neo-Nazi roots, swept into Parliament for the first time in June last year on an anti-immigrant platform.

The incident is not the first time a soccer player has caused controversy with a fascist gesture. In January 2005 Lazio captain Paolo di Canio faced disciplinary action after saluting fans during two matches in Italy’s Serie A, as the BBC reports. Those incidents resulted in di Canio being fined a total of €20,000 ($26,000) and receiving a one-game ban.

MORE: Reclaiming Xenophobia: The Rise of Ultra-Nationalism in Greece

5 comments
gunne
gunne

Long life to Nazi Germany and the Supremacy of Arian race,  brother Katidis.  All other races are scum

frankwall1965
frankwall1965

I would say a ban for a year would have been enough. Maybe give the boy some education on top of that.

diligend10
diligend10

Honestly, I find this ban ridiculous. After scoring, I don't think the player had any malicious intent behind the celebration. In fact, the "salute" was toward his own fans. Had he celebrated this way in front of the opposing team's crowd is a whole different story. Plus, he is only 20 years old. 


jkaravidas
jkaravidas

an unjust and severe punishment for an unjustifiable act of a 20 year old boy. Everyone in Greece is going crazy with the rise of extreme parties like Golden Dawn but this has got nothing to do with banning a young athlete FOR THE REST OF HIS LIFE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

island_pride4eva
island_pride4eva

@gunne If you truly believe in the Arian race, then you would know that by blood Katidis can never be your brother. By the way if the Arian race we're so superior...why did they steal the symbol from the Asians amongst many other things to bring forth the Nazi agenda...?!?!?!