AEK Athens and Greek midfielder Giorgos Katidis is facing a lot of criticism and a lifetime ban from any Greek national team after giving a Nazi salute while celebrating a goal in AEK’s 2-1 victory over Veria on Saturday. The Associated Press has an image of the gesture for you to see with your own eyes. After the match, Katidis was slammed by politicians, fans and his fellow footballers for the insensitive and unacceptable salute.
The Greece football foundation released a statement on the incident saying that it “is a deep insult to all victims of Nazi brutality.”
Katidis responded to the criticism for his gesture, but came up with a weak defense — ignorance.
“I am not a fascist and would not have done it if I had known what it meant,” Katidis wrote on his Twitter account according to the translation.
AEK head coach Ewald Lienen, who happens to be German, defended Katidis and used the same defense as the midfielder.
“He is a young kid who does not have any political ideas. He most likely saw such a salute on the internet or somewhere else and did it without knowing what it means,” he said.
That’s a poor defense for something that should be taken seriously. It is hard to imagine that a 20-year-old who went through the school system would not be educated on the history of World War II and Hitler’s reign with the Nazi regime. If he truly had no idea what he was doing, then perhaps it’s time to reevaluate the school system.
In the end, the poor defense won’t be doing much to save Katidis. His lifetime ban from the Greece national team is a move that had to be made and it was the right one.
AEK could also face sanctions for their midfielders actions and fans of the club are calling for his release.
It’s hard to blame them.
What do you think: was Katidis’ Nazi salute a conscious gesture or an innocent, unfortunate mistake? Let us hear your thoughts in the comments section.