With one quick and unfortunate gesture, Greek soccer player Giorgos Katidis got himself banned for life from the national team.
Among things you should never do on the pitch, delivering a 'Heil, Hitler' salute has to be near the top. That is precisely what Katidis is alleged to have done at a recent AEK Athens game, as reported by The NY Daily News.
The video below (h/t SI.com) shows the 20-year-old scoring the game-winning goal against Veria when he takes off his shirt to celebrate.
So far, nothing we haven't seen many times before. Then comes a gesture that is renowned around the world as a Nazi salute.
It's important to note how famous this awful gesture is because Katidis would later claim he didn't know what the salute meant, and was merely gesturing to his buddy. More on that in a moment.
The backlash for a remarkably offensive gesture has been swift and immense. The most severe, for the young football player, has been a lifetime ban.
Calling Katidis' actions a "deep insult to all victims of Nazi brutality," Greece's soccer federation put an immediate end to the player's international career, The Associated Press reported.
Fans of AEK Athens are equally outraged and have pleaded with the club to dismiss the midfielder as well. According to the report, the team will make a decision on that very thing shortly.
This particular story is reminiscent of Olympian Voula Papachristou who was sent home from the summer games after tweeting racist remarks.
Representing your country is an honor, not a right. The moment you disgrace your team and fellow athletes with ignorant and shameful actions, you lose any opportunity to wear your nation's colors.
Not that Katidis is proclaiming to be anything more than just extremely foolish.
Per the report, he took to Twitter and offered the following, "I am not racist in any way. I abhor fascism. I would not have done it if I knew that it meant something. I know the consequences and would not do it ever."
AEK Athens coach Ewald Lienen is buying it, because he came to his player's defense shortly after, "He 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."
This brings me back to Katidis' claims. 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.
It's hard to believe the poor kid was just saluting his pal and didn't know the extent and weight of his gesture.
Well, he knows now and we have our important reminder of the day. The Nazi salute is still very much horrible.
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