Professional soccer player Giorgos Katidis, who was banned for life from Greece’s national team for giving a Nazio-like salute after scoring the winning goal for his team in a Greek league match, has also been given a five-match ban by his club, the once powerful but now lowly AEK Athens.
A Hellenic Football Association disciplinary panel also ordered the 20-year-old attacking midfielder to pay a 1,000 euros ($1,300) and banned from attending professional games for three months. Katidis, a former under-21 national team captain, has been suspended by AEK until the end of the season and received a lifetime national team ban.
He has repeatedly apologized for his action, initially insisting that he was unaware the straight-hand salute was associated with Nazi Germany, although it’s also used in Greece by the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party.
“The player’s action to salute to spectators in a Nazi manner is a severe provocation, insults all the victims of Nazi bestiality and injures the deeply pacifist and human character of the game,, the national football federation EPO said last month when giving him the life ban, for which he was also heavily criticized by a number of political parties as the incident came during the 70th anniversary of Greek Jew deportations in Nazi concentration camps in the Second World War.
Katidis denied at the time that the salute was a Nazi gesture. “I am not a fascist and would not have done it if I had known what it meant,” Katidis said on his Twitter account.
Not long after that, the team’s President, Andreas Dimitrelos was arrested on on charges the team owed more than 170 million euros ($219.6 million) in taxes. He said he inherited the financial problems, that the arrearage was not his fault and that he was trying to arrange a plan to settle the debt.
Athens public prosecutor Grigoris Peponis also issued warrants for the arrest of the club’s presidents from 2004 to October 2012, including former AEK and Greece striker Demis Nikolaidis, who headed the club from 2004-2008, plus Giorgos Kintis, Nikos Thanopoulos and Stavros Adamidis.