The Greek soccer federation (EPO) on Sunday handed AEK Athens midfielder Giorgios Katidis a life ban from the national team after he gave what appeared to be a Nazi salute to AEK supporters in celebrating his winning goal in a 2-1 win over Veria in the Greek Super League on Saturday.
"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 in a statement. Katidis was also heavily criticized on Twitter and Facebook by fans and public officials.
After the game, Katidis said that he gave the salute without knowing what it meant. "I am not a fascist and would not have done it if I had known what it meant," the 20-year-old said on his Twitter account.
AEK's German coach, Ewald Lienen, backed Katidis. "He is a young kid who does not have any political ideas,” Lienen said. “He most likely saw such a salute on the Internet or somewhere else and did it without knowing what it means.”