UEFA investigates Turkish star after Grey Wolves move

UEFA has opened an investigation into Turkish footballer Merih Demiral over “alleged inappropriate behaviour” after he celebrated a goal at Euro 2024 by making a hand gesture associated with an ultra-nationalist group.

Demiral scored both goals as his country beat Austria, who scored one goal, and secured Turkey’s place in the quarter-finals on Tuesday night.

After the second goal, Demiral appeared to raise the sign associated with the “Ulcu Ocaklari” (Grey Wolves) organization with his hands.

Demiral himself posted a photo of himself on the “X” website celebrating one of his goals against Austria, raising his hand in the “Grey Wolves” gesture of a far-right group in Turkey.

UEFA confirmed on Wednesday that it had appointed an inspector to investigate the Turkish player. The union did not indicate when the investigation would be completed.

“An investigator has been appointed to look into ethics and disciplinary matters,” the European Union said in a statement, adding that more information on the matter would follow.

German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser responded to Demiral’s gesture in a post on the website X, saying that “the symbol of Turkish right-wing extremists has no place in our stadiums,” adding that “using European football as a platform for racism is absolutely unacceptable. We expect UEFA to investigate the case and consider sanctions.”

Türkiye’s next match will be against the Netherlands in Berlin on Saturday.

Demiral was one of 16 Turkish players reprimanded in 2019 for performing military-like salutes in matches while the country was carrying out a military offensive in Syria.

The Grey Wolves were founded as the youth wing of the far-right Nationalist Movement Party, which is now allied with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party.

In the decades following its founding in the 1960s, the organization was accused of involvement in political violence, mostly against leftist groups.

The organisation has been banned in France, while Austria has banned the “Grey Wolves” salute widely used by nationalists in Turkey.

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