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.”
It's unfortunate that AEK Athens Katidis's "outrageous" gesture after his match winning goal vs Beria at the Olympic Stadium was celebrated in the "sickest" way possible! Katidis is now branded the "Greek Hitler!" Even Edwald Lienen (do you know where he played Mike Woitalla) agreed he did not know what he did! And he didn't! These sorts of gestures are simply "learned behavior" from tough Greek neighborhoods comparable to "hate crimes" in the United States...however, we need to understand what the Greeks experienced in WWII...it's simple, the Greeks nor the Hellenic Football Federation will not tolerate this sort of behavior...KATIDIS IS DONE...at least internationally unless the Greek government lifts his ban! But who is this talented 19 year old? Maybe Mike Woitalla can give some European Youth Soccer information on this player...he should know...FYI,the Greeks finished 2nd to Spain in the UEFA U-19 Confederation qualifiers! Let's hope the Greek Federation will allow Katidis to rejoin the Greek U-20's in Turkey for their quest to challenge for a U-20 World Championship!