Greek soccer player gets life ban for Nazi salute

ATHENS, Greece (JTA) — A Greek soccer player was banned for life from playing for the national team after giving the Nazi salute during a game.

In barring Giorgos Katidis, who plays for AEK Athens, the Greek soccer federation said Sunday that the Nazi salute was a “severe provocation” and an insult to “all the victims of Nazi barbarity.”

Katidis, 20, gave the salute after scoring the winning goal in a match on March 15 — the same day Greek Jews marked the 70th anniversary of the deportation of the Thessaloniki Jewish community to Auschwitz.

Katidis, who used to play for a Thessaloniki team, claimed he was unaware of the meaning of the salute and apologized for his act.

“I am not a racist,” he said in a message on Twitter.

In recent months, Greece has seen an upsurge in such incidents with the rise of the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party, whose members and leaders often give the salute and employ other Nazi imagery.

Speaking at a ceremony on Sunday to mark the deportation of the Thessaloniki Jews, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras vowed to take a harsher stance against neo-Nazis and racists.
 

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