Soccer Player Banned for Using Nazi Salute
Giorgos Katidis, 20, says he didn't know what it meant
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 17, 2013 4:15 PM CDT
Updated Mar 17, 2013 5:20 PM CDT
AEK Athens midfielder Giorgos Katidis raises his hand in a Nazi style salute as he celebrates scoring the winner in a game against Veria in Athens' Olympic Stadium, Saturday, March 16, 2013.   (AP Photo/INTIME)

(Newser) – The soccer federation of Greece has banned a player from the nation's teams for life after he celebrated a goal yesterday with a Nazi salute, the Guardian reports. The federation handed Giorgos Katidis, 20, the ban for what it deemed a "severe provocation": The salute "insults all the victims of Nazi bestiality and injures the deeply pacifist and human character of the game," it said. But Katidis insists he was only pointing to a friend in the stands and didn't know what the salute meant, the BBC reports.

"I am not a fascist and would not have done it if I had known what it meant," he said on Twitter. His team's German coach supported him, saying Katidis "most likely saw such a salute on the internet or somewhere else and did it without knowing what it means." At Yahoo! Sports, Ryan Bailey wonders if Katidis might be that "naive/stupid. ... After all, this is a man half-witted enough to apparently have Get Rich or Die Tryin' tattooed just above his junk." Either way, it's bad timing: Today is the 70th anniversary of the deportation of the first Greek Jews to Auschwitz-Birkenau during World War II.