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Greek Player Who Gave Nazi Salute After Goal Banned For Life

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Slade Sohmer

By Slade Sohmer on March 17, 2013

This weekend marked the 70th anniversary of the roundup and deportation of Greek Jews to Nazi extermination camps during World War II. What better way to commemorate such a somber occasion than by giving a full-on Nazi salute after scoring a game-winning goal in the Greek Super League?

Giorgos Katidis

AEK Athens midfielder Giorgos Katidis scored on a late deflection on Saturday, giving his club a 2-1 Super League victory over Veria.

Like his toe-poke deflection, his celebration choice may have just been instinct as well, but giving the Nazi salute was clearly a bad first touch. For his actions, Greece’s soccer federation EPO handed Katidis a lifetime ban from all national soccer teams. “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,” EPO said.

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The odd salute and federation’s ban comes at a time when Greece’s Golden Dawn Party is improbably gaining in popularity. The Neo-Nazi political party swept into parliament with 18 seats in last year’s election.

The 20-year-old Katidis had previously been a captain for Greece’s Under-19 team. Even his teammates who caught the gesture were left confused:

Giorgos Katidis

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Katidis took to Twitter to plead ignorance, telling fans “I am not a fascist and would not have done it if I had known what it meant.”

Giorgos Katidis twitter greek

Here’s a rough English translation:

Giorgos Katidis twitter english translate

Katidis said he was simply pointing at injured teammate Michalis Pavlis in the stands, dedicating the game-winning goal to his buddy.

AEK’s coach defended his player: “He is a young kid who does not have any political ideas,” he said. “He most likely saw such a salute on the Internet or somewhere else and did it without knowing what it means.”

Giorgos Katidis’ coach is Ewald Lienen … from Germany.

It all happened very quickly. Here’s the goal and celebration:

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