Turkish Euro 24 goal scorer makes far-right salute

Turkey is rejoicing after its national team qualified for the quarter-finals in the Euro 24 football tournament for the first time since 2008 with a 2:1 victory against Austria. However Merih Demiral, who scored the country's two goals in the game, is facing a ban for making a "wolf" salute, which is linked to the right-wing extremist Grey Wolves youth group, after he scored his second goal. Is this justified?

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Neue Zürcher Zeitung (CH) /

No place in football

The Neue Zürcher Zeitung says there should be zero tolerance for such gestures:

“As a minimum he should be suspended for the quarter-finals. Even banning him from several games would not be unreasonable. If other Turkish players display such behaviour, Uefa should keep open the option of excluding the Turkish association from the next tournament. The message that right-wing extremists have no place in football cannot be stressed enough. For Uefa, this is necessary simply to preserve the integrity of the tournament, which would be compromised by copycats.”

Der Spiegel (DE) /

Impunity would damage credibility

Overtly political symbols can be tolerated to a certain degree, but Demiral's gesture went too far, says Der Spiegel:

“Uefa has clear guidelines that prohibit political declarations at football matches. You can agree with this or not. After all, we already saw such a debate at the last European Championship when there was a heated discussion about rainbow symbolism before the match between Germany and Hungary. ... The ban imposed at the time was also so controversial because you could say that the rainbow flag is not necessarily a political statement but a symbol of universal values. Uefa took a different view. This is precisely why it must not allow the Turkish player to continue playing with impunity now. Otherwise it will lose all credibility.”

Akşam (TR) /

Turkish national pride unacceptable for some

The pro-government daily Akşam rails against critics in Turkey and abroad:

“They have a problem with all the values, the religion, the sacred sites, the flag, the patriotism, the customs and traditions of this nation. ... Don't worry. Of course there will be those who cannot share the joy that the national team has brought to this nation. ... They can't rejoice, so don't force them to. There's no need for this. After all, our boys won!”

T24 (TR) /

Unconvincing justification

Demiral's attempt to defend himself won't be enough, comments T24:

“This is no just about the political nature of the gesture. Football associations can also penalise non-political gestures (including an army salute) that 'damage football's reputation' under Article 11 of Uefa's Regulations. The argument that this gesture is 'not political, but merely related to the history of the Turks' may therefore not be enough to save the situation. ... Footballers are allowed to have political views, and of course they can express them. But when it comes to playing on the national team they must act with a greater sense of responsibility. Merih Demiral has behaved irresponsibly.”