Will UEFA punish Turkey’s star for unsportsmanlike gesture?

Demiral celebrates with Türkiye at the Hamburg stadium, June 2, 2024 (Getty)

Open European Union for football UEFA has opened an investigation into Turkish defender Merih Demiral (26 years old) for possibly behaving inappropriately while celebrating with the Turkish national team during the match he played against Austria, which ended with a win. Türkiye (2-1), and qualify for the quarter-finals of Euro 2024.

German newspaper Spiegel Sport revealed on Wednesday that there is a strong possibility that Turkish player Merih Demiral behaved inappropriately in front of the fans in the stands during the match against Austria, as he celebrated one of his goals while raising his hand in the “Grey Wolves” sign, which is the far-right group in Turkey, and then posted a picture of the celebration on his account on the X website.

The German newspaper indicated that the European Football Association will investigate this celebration, even if it affects the ethical and disciplinary aspect agreed upon in the stadiums of the Euro 2024 matches, especially after what was published by the German Interior Minister, Nancy Faeser, on Tuesday evening, via a special post on the X website, in which she said: “The symbol of the Turkish right-wing extremists has no place in our stadiums. Using European football as a platform for racism is absolutely unacceptable. We are waiting for the European Football Association to investigate the case and consider the sanctions.”

In the details of the unsportsmanlike gesture, according to the German newspaper, Demiral showed a hand gesture, known in political terms as the “wolf salute,” in which the middle and ring fingers touch the thumb, while the index and little fingers point to form an image of wolf ears. This gesture is derived from the “gray wolf,” one of the most famous symbols of the “Ülkükü” scene, as explained on the website of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution.

If UEFA imposes a one- or two-match suspension on Demiral, the defender will miss Saturday’s Euro 2024 quarter-final clash with the Netherlands at Berlin’s Olympic Stadium, and will also miss the semi-final if Turkey qualify.

In a related context, a Turkish diplomatic source told Reuters that the Turkish Foreign Ministry summoned the German ambassador to Ankara on Wednesday, after the European Football Association opened an investigation earlier today into the way the Turkish defender celebrated, as Germany denounced the way the celebration was done and described it as racist due to its association with far-right ideas, according to it.

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