AEK Athens midfielder Giorgos Katidis let the emotion of scoring the winning goal versus Veria in the Greek League get the better of him on Saturday with what appeared to be a Nazi style salute to supporters.
The Greek Football Federation EPO wasn’t amused and quickly handed down the harshest penalty possible by banning Katidias for life from all national teams.
“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.
Social media was quick to pounce on the former captain of the Greek U19 national team with both Twitter and Facebook being used as forums by political parties.
His timing couldn’t have been worse as today (Sunday) marks the 70th anniversary of Greek Jew deportations in Nazi concentration camps in the Second World War.
Katidis has denied that he gave a Nazi salute. “I am not a fascist and would not have done it if I had known what it meant,” Katidis said on his Twitter account.
Katidis has offered up the following explanation for the salute saying that he was simply pointing to Michalis Pavlis, a team-mate in the stands who is battling health problems. Certainly a more plausible excuse than the one provided by Joey Barton who in August of 2010 was accused of making the same salute.
Footballers have said many times that when they score a goal they lose their minds for 5-10 seconds. We can now add Katidis to that list.