Greek Soccer Player Banned for Life After Performing Nazi Salute (Video)
Even sports fans who don’t follow soccer closely know that racism is perhaps the biggest problem the sport faces in the 21st century. Whether it is racist players or racist fans, there just seems to be one soccer racism scandal after another.
Well, the Greek soccer federation has apparently decided that the only way to get rid of the problem is to impose severe penalties, because they recently handed out a lifetime ban to Giorgos Katidis after he celebrated a goal with what can only be described as a Nazi salute.
The incident occurred on Saturday during a game between AEK Athens and Veria. After Katidis scored a goal to give AEK the 2-1 lead, he darted over to the corner, took off his shirt, and extended his right arm straight out from his shoulder at a 45-degree angle.
Take a look:
Katidis is just 20 years old and a rising star in Greek soccer who had previously been captain of their junior national team. He said that he had no idea that the gesture he was making was a Nazi salute and that he was simply pointing to his friend, an injured teammate sitting in the crowd.
After the game he took to Twitter to proclaim his innocence. “I am not racist in any way,” Katidis explained. “I abhor fascism. I would not have done it if I knew that it meant something. I know the consequences and would not do it ever.”
Katidis’s coach at AEK, Ewald Lienen, also defended him afterward, saying “He is a young kid who does not have any political ideas. He most likely saw such a salute on the internet or somewhere else and did it without knowing what it means.”
Unfortunately for Katidis, the Greek soccer officials didn’t buy the explanation. They issued a statement saying his salute was “a deep insult to all victims of Nazi brutality,” and banned him from the senior national team for life.
So what do you think? Is there any way this gesture wasn’t intentional? And if it was, is the lifetime ban justified?
Hat Tip – [Gawker]