Giorgos Katidis, who gave Nazi salute, gets lifetime ban from Greek national team
ATHENS — AEK Athens midfielder Giorgos Katidis has been banned from any Greek national team for life after giving a Nazi salute while celebrating a goal in the Greek league.
Greece’s football federation said Sunday in a statement that the player’s gesture “is a deep insult to all victims of Nazi brutality.”
The 20-year-old Katidis gave a Nazi salute after scoring the winner in AEK’s 2-1 victory over Veria on Saturday. His action provoked an immediate and overwhelmingly negative response on social media. Katidis apologized on TV and Twitter, pleading ignorance about the meaning of the salute.
“I would like to confess that I am totally unacceptable and I feel terrible for those I upset with the stupidity of my act,” Katidis said in a statement.
“I made the mistake so I will be the one to pay for it, AEK is not responsible. So that is why I have decided to put myself out of the team because I have now realized how much I have offended the history of the club…Also, I understand fully the reasons for the decision made by the Greek Football Federation to which I owe a huge apology as it has helped me to get where I am in the professional game.”
He said his “career is now at risk” after the salute, and apologized to his teammates.
“Unfortunately I cannot take the clock back but I want to clarify that I am not a fascist or neo-Nazi or racist. I have a step brother from Puerto Rico and all my family are from the Black Sea and have experienced racism in the worst ways,” he said.
“I sincerely apologize to my teammates and everyone involved with the club that I have insulted in not knowing exactly what I had done in my celebration. Nonetheless, the fact that I did not know what I was doing is no excuse.”
The team’s coach stood behind Katidis, adding that he “most likely saw such a salute on the Internet or somewhere else.” AEK and the Greek league are also considering separate sanctions. AEK could also be penalized.
“He is a young kid who does not have any political ideas,” Ewald Lienen said.
Hardcore AEK fans have issued a statement demanding Katidis’ dismissal from the team.
Katidis has played for Greek junior teams.