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Rising Greek star Katidis banned for life after Nazi Salute celebration

668   //    19 Mar 2013, 01:08 IST

Professional football players celebrate their goals in a lot of unusual and sometimes distasteful ways. For Giorgos Katidis, who plays for Greek club AEK Athens, his celebration included a Nazi salute.

This proved to be so distasteful for those who witnessed it that the midfielder was immediately banned for life from playing for the national team. Katidis made the salute after scoring the game-winning goal for AEK against Veria on March 16.

AEK Athens midfielder Giorgos Katidis raises his hand in a Nazi style salute as he celebrates scoring the winning goal in a Greek league game against Veria in Athens’ Olympic Stadium, Saturday, March 16, 2013. AEK won the game 2-1. (Getty Images).

The incident took place in a Super League game at the famous Olympic Stadium in Athens and a video of it quickly went viral and spread around the world. While Katidis is just 20-years-old, he’s a star with the national junior team and was expected to break into the senior national side in the near future. In his defense, Katidis said he didn’t know what the gesture meant, and that it was just done at the spur of the moment in celebration of his goal.

The football federation in Greece said that the player’s actions deeply insulted the millions of people who were affected by the brutality of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi regime in the 20th Century.

Ironically, the day that Katidis made the unfortunate gesture was the very same day that Greece was marking the 70th anniversary of the start of deportation of Greek Jews to extermination camps which were operated by the Nazis during the Second World War.

Katidis changed his story slightly, or simply forgot to mention it, but later on he said he made the salute because he was actually pointing to one of his injured AEK teammates, who was sitting in the stadium’s stands. He claimed that he’s certainly not a racist and doesn’t have any strong political views.

He said if he knew the salute had any deep historical meaning, he never would have done it in a million years. Ewald Lienen, the manager of AEK Athens, stuck up for his player by saying that the youngster is guilty of being ignorant of the past and nothing more.

Lienen, who hails from Germany, said Katidis is just a young man who is out of his teenage years and doesn’t have any political ties or beliefs. He added that the player probably saw a Nazi salute on television or the internet and didn’t know that it symbolized hatred or anything else.

However, fans of the soccer club don’t necessarily share the manager’s views and many of them are insisting that AEK gets rid of Katidis from the roster. It’s expected that officials of the club will get together in the next few days to decide what to do with Katidis.

Due to his age, it’s certainly possible that Katidis didn’t have a clue what the salute meant. The Nazi regime was decades ago now. If youngsters don’t learn about such things in school, it’s entirely possible they could live their lives without knowing the historical meaning of certain things.

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