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Nazi salutes at the football field

17 March 2013 / 13:03:25  GRReporter
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The way in which George Katidis celebrated his winning goal during the match AEK-Veria (2:1) caused confusion. The AEK player outstretched his hand in a Nazi salute. However, he claimed that he was misunderstood and he was actually pointing to Michalis Pavlis.

"I want to make this misunderstanding clear. This means nothing to me. I was pointing to the audience and Michalis Pavlis to whom I dedicated my goal. It means absolutely nothing. I want to enjoy the victory. And these things mean nothing to me. I am a footballer and I want to enjoy the victory," said Katidis after the game. His twitter profile reads: "I know the story of AEK. I know it's a refugee team. I dedicated my goal to Michalis Pavlis and I am not a racist. Those who are trying to distort things only want to enter into disagreement with me."

Shortly afterwards, the young AEK player said in a new post: "I loathe fascism. I would not have done it if I knew it meant something like that. I am aware of the consequences and I would never have done that."

Later, in a statement for Radio Nova Sport FM, Katidis confirmed that he did not know what this greeting meant and that he had done it in order to greet the audience. "I am an international player and now I am aware of the consequences for me. I learned what the greeting means when I walked into the locker room. I did it in order for the audience to stand up and nothing else. I understand the tension. Michalis Pavlis informed me about everything. I want to apologise and I want to say that I know where I am and in which team. I am 20 years old and I do not want this to be the end of my career. I understand that people cannot accept that I do not know what it means. However, to tell you the truth, I've seen videos on YouTube and I thought this greeting was made in order for the supporters to stand up. Alexandros Koliadis explained it to me later. All the criticism directed at me due to the lack of scored goals made me very tense. I did it in order to make the audience stand up. I did it in order to get some respect after the criticism of recent matches. People have the right not to believe me. They believe in what they want. My career is being decided now, after a victory that our team wanted, after a goal that I wanted, but could not enjoy. All my teammates are worried. I do not know what to think and what to do. In any case, I am not a racist."

Pavlis and Lienen in support of Katidis

Michalis Pavlis took Katidis’s side. "The specific greeting bears no relation to politics. I spoke to him about this, and he himself has no connection with politics. The goal was devoted to me and his girlfriend, who is in Italy. With this gesture he just wanted to make the people stand up. It is a pity that it was presented in this way, especially in AEK, which is a team of refugees and such things are not accepted there," said Pavlis.

Ewald Lienen reacted in a similar way. The German expert said that the player was not engaged in politics and did not know what the gesture meant. As Lienen made clear, when Katidis understood what reactions his gesture had caused, he cried in the locker room.

"I know you want to ask me about Katidis’s gesture, I can tell you, with all due respect to him, he has no idea of politics. He is a young man and he probably saw the gesture on the web or somewhere else without knowing what it means. I am more than 100% sure that George did not know what it was. Therefore, we should not blame him. He can be accused of ignorance, but not for his gesture. In the locker room, he was crying while watching TV showing the agitation caused by his greeting. He said that he did not want others to accept it that way. He's young and needs protection, we should protect him. He has no idea of politics just like many other boys. Therefore, we should not judge him. Otherwise, if a player on my team knew my past, knew where I came from and what political beliefs I had, a similar gesture would automatically mean that this would be his last match at AEK. But this does not apply to Katidis and I am more than 100% sure of it."

The Democratic Left also opposed the gesture

The Democratic Left issued a note about George Katidis’s greeting, reading that the party expected AEK’s reaction: "On the day when Thessaloniki honoured the memory of thousands of Jews sent to Nazi crematoriums in Auschwitz, a Thessalonian gave a Nazi salute during the match AEK-Veria at the Olympic Stadium. Perhaps Mr Katidis does not know that AEK is a team of refugees who have paid dearly for racism and fascism. We expect reactions on the side of AEK and Greek football’s competent authorities. The venom of Nazism should not pollute Greek football."

Tags: football AEK George Katidis Nazi salute
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