Turkey Defender Merih Demiral Hit With Two-Game Ban For Illicit Goal Celebration In Euro 2024

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Turkey defender Merih Demiral has been handed a two-match suspension following his controversial actions during his team’s Euro 2024 victory over Austria on Tuesday, June 2nd.

The 26-year-old player scored both goals for Turkey in a 2-1 victory, which secured them a spot in the quarter-finals against the Netherlands in the Euro competition.

However, Demiral’s celebration after his second goal, in which he made an ultra-nationalist salute known as the ‘wolf salute’, has sparked outrage.

Merih Demiral

This gesture is associated with the far-right group Grey Wolves, affiliated with Turkey’s ruling party, the National Movement Party, and is banned in countries like Austria and France.

The Al-Ahli defender admitted that the salute was pre-planned in case he scored during the match.

Meanwhile, the player’s actions have stirred controversy and raised questions about the relationship between sport and politics.

Germany’s Minister of Interior and Home Affairs, Nancy Faeser, urged UEFA to consider sanctions and mete out appropriate punishment on the player for his alleged gesture.

Faeser posted on X, formerly Twitter, on Wednesday morning: ”The symbols of Turkish right-wing extremists have no place in our stadiums.”

“Using the European Football Championship as a platform for racism is completely unacceptable.”

Following this, Uefa has now charged Merih Demiral with various violations, including failing to adhere to the general principles of conduct, using sports events for non-sporting purposes, and tarnishing the image of football.

As a result, Demiral will be suspended for the next two matches, which will certainly impact Turkey’s lineup in the crucial upcoming fixtures.

The 26-year-old’s two-match suspension will ultimately rule him out of Turkey’s Euro 2024 quarter-final against the Netherlands on Saturday, June 6, and a possible semi-final.

The Grey Wolves

The Grey Wolves, also known as Ulku Ocaklari, are the youth movement associated with Turkey’s Nationalist Movement Party, currently in a coalition with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Justice and Development (AK) Party.

The group’s supporters are deemed extremists by both Germany’s Constitutional Protection Agency, as well as the European Union and the United States.

As it stands, the nationalist leader is expected to attend the last-eight tie in Berlin on Saturday night, June 6 against Ronald Koeman’s team.

Merih Demiral’s gesture forbidden both in France and Austria

The action reportedly carried out by Admiral is forbidden in both France and Austria.

Austria implemented the ban in 2019 following the adoption of a law prohibiting symbols associated with ‘extremist organizations’.

According to the law, anyone caught making this gesture could face fines of up to €4,000 (£3,400).

However, in 2019, the Turkish government condemned Austria’s decision, arguing that it unfairly linked a symbol of a lawful political party to that of the PKK, a Kurdish rebel group classified as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the US, and the EU.

Merih Demiral makes comments on his outrageous celebration

Following the game, Demiral elaborated on the reason behind his gesture stating that he had the particular celebration in mind which is closely tied to his Turkish heritage.

He said: “I had a specific celebration in mind, something connected to my Turkish identity. I am incredibly proud to be Turkish, and I felt that pride deeply after scoring.”

In his statement, Demiral mentioned that he was thrilled to see Turkey fans making the gestures, and that inspired him to do that.

He added: “I wanted to convey that feeling, and I am thrilled that I did. Our fans show tremendous support for us. When I saw them making the same gesture in the stands, it inspired me to do it even more.”

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