German regional clubs probed after players mimic Turkish military salute


Berlin (AFP) – At least five German regional football teams face disciplinary action after their players imitated the military salute performed by the Turkish national team during matches last weekend.

Germany has a Turkish population of around 2.5 million people and three teams in the Recklinghausen district, near Gelsenkirchen, will face a disciplinary committee after pictures posted on social media showed their players made the controversial salute to celebrate goals.

“In one case it was the whole team, in another case, it was five or six players,” Hans-Otto Matthey, the district chairman of the Westphalia Football and Athletics Association (FLVW), told AFP subsidiary SID.

Matthey said making the clubs accountable should discourage other teams in the region, which has a sizeable Turkish community, against repeating the gesture in this weekend’s matches.

“I predict that nobody else will have the nerve to repeat something like this,” he added.

The military gesture has become a hot topic after Turkey players saluted to celebrate goals during Euro 2020 qualifiers against France in Paris on Monday and Friday against Albania.

The salute is seen as a reference to Turkey’s military operation against Kurdish militants in Syria, which has been condemned by both France and Germany.

On Tuesday, Turkey’s sports minister Mehmet Muharrem Kasapoglu described the controversial gesture as a “nice salute”, but European football’s ruling body UEFA is investigating the national team for the “potential provocative political behaviour” of its players.

There were also two further cases of teams in Bavaria making the salute gesture, with both clubs also set to face disciplinary measures.

On Tuesday, both the Bavarian (BFV) and North German Football Associations (NFV) warned players in their areas to expect “heavy penalties” for imitating the military salute.

“Insults and provocations have no place on or off the pitch and will not be tolerated”, an NFV football official told SID.

The German Football Association (DFB) took a similar stance at the weekend.

Germany internationals Emre Can and Ilkay Gundogan, who have Turkish roots, apologised on Sunday after they both clicked ‘Like’ on a picture of the Turkish footballers saluting during Friday’s 1-0 win over Albania, which they later removed.

“We are against all forms of violence and discrimination,” said national team director Oliver Bierhoff.

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