UEFA has launched an investigation into Turkey’s Merih Demiral following his controversial goal celebration during Turkey’s Euro 2024 victory over Austria. The scrutiny arises from Demiral’s use of a gesture with far-right connotations, which he made after scoring his second goal in Turkey’s 2-1 win, securing their spot in the quarterfinals against the Netherlands, told Sky News.

The gesture, known as the “wolf” salute, is associated with the Gray Wolves, a far-right nationalist group based in Turkey. This group is notorious for its extremist views and has been banned in France. In Austria, where the match took place, the gesture is also banned and can result in fines of up to €4,000, as reported by The Guardian.

“An investigation has been opened in accordance with Article 31(4) of the UEFA Disciplinary Regulations in relation to the alleged inappropriate behavior of the Turkish Football Federation player, Merih Demiral,” UEFA stated. “Further information regarding this matter will be made available in due course.”

Potential repercussions for Demiral include fines or suspension. This is not the first time football players have faced consequences for such actions; FIFA fined two Swiss players for making a similar gesture during a World Cup match in 2018. Additionally, Admiral and other Turkish players were reprimanded in 2019 for military-style salutes during games, coinciding with Turkey’s military operations in Syria.

When questioned about his actions, Demiral defended his gesture, calling it “quite normal” and tied to his Turkish identity. “It has to do with this Turkish identity because I’m very proud to be a Turk. And I felt that to the fullest after the second goal. So that’s how I ended up doing that gesture. I’m very happy that I did that,” he explained to The Associated Press. “I saw people in the stadium who were doing that sign. So that reminded me that I also had that in mind.”

Though the gesture is not banned in Germany, the host country for Euro 2024, it received sharp criticism from German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser. She condemned the act on social media, emphasizing that symbols of right-wing extremism have no place in sporting events. “The symbols of Turkish right-wing extremists have no place in our stadiums,” Faeser wrote on X. “Using the European Football Championship as a platform for racism is completely unacceptable. We expect UEFA to investigate the case and consider sanctions.”

Faeser’s comments led to diplomatic tensions, prompting Turkey to summon the German ambassador in protest, as reported by The Associated Press.

As UEFA continues its investigation, the football community awaits the outcome and potential implications for Demiral and the broader discourse on nationalism and extremism in sports.



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