AEK Athens midfielder Giorgos Katidis scored the winning goal in his team’s 2-1 Super League victory over Veria on Saturday but celebrated by giving the Nazi salute to spectators at the Olympic Stadium. The gesture earned rebukes from politicians, fellow athletes and fans.
Photographs show him giving a Nazi salute after scoring the go-ahead goal in the 84th minute over visiting Veria on Saturday.
In one photo, Katidis’ Brazilian-born teammate, Roger Guerreiro, looks at him with an expression of astonishment.
The 20-year-old Katidis pleaded ignorance of the meaning of his gesture – right arm extended and hand straightened. He claimed on his Twitter account that he detests fascism.
Responding to heavy criticism after the Super League game, Katidis said he was unaware of the implications of his celebration.
“I despise fascism,” the player said via his Twitter account. “I would not have done it if I knew what something like this meant. I know what the consequences are and I would never have done it.
The midfielder moved to AEK last year from Aris Thessaloniki. He has represented Greece at Under-17 and Under-19 levels.
AEK’s German coach Ewald Lienen, said the player doesn’t have an “idea about politics.”
“That’s why we shouldn’t condemn him. Any footballer who knows about my past, where I’m from and my political beliefs would know that would know that such a gesture [on purpose] would lead to that being his last game for AEK.”
AEK won the game at the Olympic Stadium in Athens 2-1, a crucial victory in their bid to avoid relegation.
The controversial action by the promising 20-year-old may lead to disciplinary action by the team and the league.
Watch the video showing Katidis scoring a goal and then making with the heavily criticized salute: