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This Soccer Player Says He Didn’t Know What A Nazi Salute Meant - Do You Believe It?
March 19, 2013
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There's been a lot of reaction over the past day or so to this image: Greek soccer player Giorgos Katidis giving what appears to be a Nazi salute.

He made the gesture after he scored the winning goal for his team AEK Athens in a Super League game in Greece.

As you'd expect, Katidis, who is 20 years old, was heavily criticized over it.

After the game, he tweeted: "I'm not a racist - no way... I hate fascism. I wouldn't have done it if I knew it meant something like that. I know the consequences."

Later, he issued a statement apologizing - saying he didn't realize what he was doing but that it was no excuse.

Regardless, the Greek football federation banned Katidis from playing for the national team for life.

His coach Ewald Lienen, who's from Germany and is known for his "left wing" politics, had this to say:

"(Katidis) is a young kid who does not have any political ideas. He most likely saw such a salute on the internet or somewhere else and did it, without knowing what it means."

"I am 100% sure that Giorgos did not know what he did."

So, is it possible that a young man in Europe, in this day and age, wouldn't know what a Nazi salute is? And does that even matter?

Here's a sampling of opinion online.

Kit Holden of The Independent writes that Katidis "insistence that he did not know the meaning of the gesture, moreover, seems even more ridiculous. Nazism and the Holocaust remain, for good reason, among the most widely discussed historical subjects in modern society."

"Katidis is probably not a fascist. But he is certainly an idiot."

He goes on to say, "More often than not, acts of casual racism, casual sexism and indeed casual fascism are done more out of ignorance than malice. But it does not render them excusable."

"A harsh punishment is only fitting for as idiotic an action as Katidis'.

You can read his full piece here.

For the Australian publication, Adelaide Now, Isabelle Oderberg suggests the life ban might be too severe.

She writes, "As a Jew and a granddaughter of Holocaust survivors, when I see a Nazi salute or anti-semitic graffiti, there's a deep sense of nausea and fear that sinks right to the pit of my stomach."

But she suggests Greek authorities banned Katidis so quickly (within 48 hours) there was "not enough time to establish whether or not the gesture was well-informed and intentional or just plain stupid."

"Even if it was just ignorant stupidity it cannot go unpunished, but a lifetime ban would then surely seem extreme. I would have thought a more constructive plan would be to use this incident for education," she writes.

In The Telegraph, Jake Wallis Simons doesn't buy it, writing "Funny, isn't it? The way that pesky right arm just has a habit of popping up at the most inconvenient of moments."

He adds, "the far-Right Golden Dawn party in Greece is rather fond of using the Nazi salute at its gatherings. The notion that any young Greek - even an airhead footballer - could have missed this on television, and could be so ignorant of modern European history as to be unaware of the significance of the sieg heil, is nothing short of preposterous."

His full blog is right here.

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The BBC also refers to Greek's Golden Dawn party, a far-right nationalist party.

Christos Michaelides, a journalist in Athens, tells the BBC "There are those young people who are just fascinated by the party and its symbolism - the black clothes, the hair, tattooing themselves."

"They see Golden Dawn as a friendly party, which says that it can clean up Greek politics. They also like it because it is against foreigners."

But Matthew Goodwin, an associate professor of politics at the University of Nottingham, said he finds Katidis story hard to believe.

"Europe still displays a fascination with Nazi Germany - its paraphernalia and culture is still very heavily present. There is the popular culture, the films - the symbolism is still represented," he says.

Read the full report by clicking here.

On CNN's website, Piers Edwards writes, "the tattooed youngster may be well advised to study his history."

"For despite the seven decades that have passed, many Greeks still shudder when they recollect the 300,000 citizens who died as the Nazis controlled mainland Greece between 1941 and 1944."

Read the full story here.

For Bleacher Report, Gabe Zaldivar writes, "Here is the face of a man who apparently doesn't know what he was doing and was, according to him, merely pointing at an injured teammate."

"Not that he is even looking in the direction he is "pointing." There is also the little fact that the gesture is universally renowned. The claim is nearly as absurd as his tattoo of two people kissing on his arm."

Check out the full piece here.

On another note: A couple of weeks ago, during a soccer game in Israel, a bunch of fans of Beitar Jerusalem - one of Israel's biggest teams - walked out on their home club.

The reason: the team had signed two Chechen Muslim players and one of them scored his first goal. As the players celebrated, hundreds of hardcore right-wing fans left the stadium.

You can read more about that right here.

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What's Going On In Europe? And Is It Helping An Extreme Right-Wing Party Get More Powerful?

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