Soccer

Nazi salute costs Greek player

2013-03-17 16:37
Giorgos Katidis (AP)

Athens - Giorgos Katidis was on Sunday banned for life from playing for Greece for having given a Nazi salute during a soccer game.

The Greek football federation unanimously decided the sanction following an extraordinary general meeting on Sunday.

The 20-year-old midfielder scored the winning goal in AEK Athens' 2-1 Super League victory over Veria on Saturday but celebrated it in controversial fashion in front of spectators at the Olympic Stadium.

"The action by the player to salute spectators with a Nazi salute defies common sense, profoundly shows disrespect to all the victims of Nazi atrocities and injures the peaceful and deeply human character of football. The Greek football federation condemns unequivocally and categorically such actions," an announcement by the federation said.

The federation said that it will take all appropriate steps "to preserve the peaceful nature of football and to promote the values of solidarity, cooperation and respect that it professes."

Katidis is a former Greek Under-19 skipper and was being counted on to join the full national team.

AEK have asked the player to appear before the club's administration on Wednesday to explain his actions while on the same day Super League officials will meet to discuss the case.

Greek media on Sunday reported that Katidis was given time off by AEK in order to visit his wife in Italy and that his future with the Athens club was in doubt.

Last August Katidis signed a four-year contract with AEK.

After the match he wrote on his Twitter site: "I am not a fascist and I would not have done it if I had known what it means. I know the consequences and I would never have done it."

AEK's German coach Ewald Lienen defended his player, whom he claimed was ignorant to the salute's significance.

"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," he said.

"I am 100 percent sure that Giorgos did not know what he did. He was crying in the dressing room seeing how the media reacted. He is young and needs protection."

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