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Nazi salute at the stadium splits Greece

18 March 2013 / 20:03:48  GRReporter
3930 reads

Anastasia Balezdrova

Two days later, the Nazi salute of AEK player George Katidis to the audience is still causing a fierce debate in the public domain. Social networks and media are full of comments about his act, which some identify as a conscious action showing his sympathy to Golden Dawn and others - as an unconscious act of a young football player with inadequate education and poor general knowledge.

The decision of the Hellenic Football Federation has caused similar comments as well. At a rapid extraordinary meeting, it has imposed a lifetime ban on involving the 20-year-old national player in the national teams of Greece.

According to the statements of AEK’s coach Ewald Linen, after the match with Veria and the winning goal, which George Katidis celebrated with the controversial gesture, he cried in the locker room. The German states that the player trained by him has no clear political orientation and hardly knew what he did.

Then, the developments happened in the following order: A few hours after Katidis’ photo and video were spread Golden Dawn issued a message saying that it was not a Nazi but a Greek greeting from the time of ancient Sparta. 24 hours later, after the player’s letter to the media that he is not a neo-Nazi and a racist and that he cannot be because his stepbrother is a Puerto Rican, the extreme rights removed their post from the website.

The attacks against Ktidis did not stop. The organized fans of AEK - "Original 21," issued a communication in which they write, "We were not paying attention to the fact that you're a funny dude with a forelock, body paintings and very immature ... But to your salute as a fascist ... You're nothing and that shame cannot be forgiven."

The fans state that the gesture of the player is absolutely unacceptable to the team, which was established by refugees from the Greek-Turkish War and the subsequently enforced population exchange. They warned the leadership of the team that they did not consider Katidis as part of the team.

Whether it was an apparent Nazi salute or an unsuccessful attempt to imitate something that he is unaware of, the football player has drawn the anger of thousands of Greeks upon himself. They say he should "shut up, go back to his village, dig a hole, get down in it and never come out." Others went so far as to associate his gesture with the march that took place in Thessaloniki the same day to honour the Jews deported from the city. A third group did not hesitate to state that he should be sent to prison and in any case, "to hide somewhere, because we will find and punish him as pigs of his kind deserve." It is interesting that the authors believe that such a lynching would reduce the influence of Golden Dawn in society.

Fortunately, there are sober comments as well. "Insolence or nonsense" is the title of one of the most successful among them. The author seeks the causes of George Katidis’ behaviour in his knowledge.

"The ignorance of historical events, unfortunately, has obtained the proportions of an epidemic among youths. This applies even more to athletes who have little time to study ... This creates gaps that the Facebook, Internet and TV cannot fill. Golden Dawn uses this ignorance and legitimate distrust in the political system to gather momentum among youths."

According to George Mavrotas, only education can solve this problem in the long term in order for "everyone to understand what Nazism is and what Golden Dawn is preaching behind the muscles and the group and disciplined spirit."
As is known, ignorance of law or history is not enough to justify one's actions. Many Greeks stand firmly against Katidis’ gesture and explain, "Neither he nor those from the "nuclei" are children. The difference is that while he got scared and started shouting "I'm a child, I did not know," the other cursed those who had called them children, clearly expressed their views and agreed to pay the price."

The hand of AEK’s player raised in the salute typical of the Third Reich has again rung the alarm bell as regards the spread of Nazi ideology in Greece, even in this way, at particular football stadiums, which often become the scenes of brutal violence between fanatical fans.

The only certain conclusion from what happened is the confirmation that Greek society does not yet know how to deal with the threat called Golden Dawn.

Tags: SoccerNazi saluteGeorge KatidisGolden Dawn
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