Athens midfielder Giorgos Katidis has been banned from playing for the Greek national team for life after he gave a Nazi salute while celebrating a goal in a Greek league match on Saturday.
Katidis caused huge controversy after celebrating his goal in the 2-1 win over Veria in the Greek Super League by raising his right arm straight out in front of him.
The 20-year-old, who was lambasted on Twitter and Facebook by angry supporters, claimed he didn’t know what the salute implied and insisted he would never had done it if he had known.
‘I am not a fascist and would not have done it if I had known what it meant,’ Katidis tweeted.
Katidis also received support from AEK’s German coach Ewald Lienen.
‘He is a young kid who does not have any political ideas,’ insisted Lienen. ‘He most likely saw such a salute on the internet or somewhere else and did it without knowing what it means.
‘I am 100 per cent sure Giorgos did not know what he did. He was crying in the dressing room seeing the reaction.’
However, that hasn’t stopped strong action from the Hellenic Football Federation.
The organisation announced a lifetime ban in a statement on Sunday, saying the action was ‘a profound insult to all victims of Nazi atrocities’ and they condemned it ‘unequivocally and categorically’.