Diplomatic controversy after Demiral’s gesture

Diplomatic controversy after Demiral’s gesture
Diplomatic controversy after Demiral’s gesture

Paul Rouget, Media365: published on Thursday July 4, 2024 at 2:02 p.m.

After the salute of the “Grey Wolves”, an ultranationalist group, of Merih Demiral during Turkey-Austria at the Euro, the controversy has moved to the diplomatic level between Germany and Turkey.

An unexpected hero, who is controversial. Until now the author of two goals in 47 selections with Turkey, Merih Demiral doubled his total of goals on Tuesday evening in Leipzig, by scoring a double during the victory of the selection coached by Vincenzo Montella against Austria in the round of 16 of the German Euro (2-1). Except that to celebrate his double, the former Juventus defender, now at Al-Ahli, made the “wolf salute”, the rallying sign of the “Grey Wolves”, a far-right nationalist Turkish movement which is at the origin of several attacks, notably against Armenian or Kurdish targets. UEFA announced on Wednesday that it had opened an investigation, “in relation to alleged inappropriate behavior” on these “ethical and disciplinary issues”.

Ambassadors summoned

On Thursday, a spokeswoman for the German Foreign Ministry announced that the Turkish ambassador in Berlin had been summoned to discuss the incident. The day before, Turkey had summoned the German ambassador in Ankara to protest against comments made by Nancy Faeser, the German Interior Minister. “The symbol of Turkish right-wing extremists has no place in our stadiums,” she wrote on X (ex-Twitter). “Using the Euro football championship as a platform for racism is completely unacceptable. We expect UEFA to investigate the case and consider sanctions.”

This outing must not have pleased Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who will travel to Berlin for the quarter-final against the Netherlands on Saturday evening (9 p.m.). The Grey Wolves began to develop in the 1960s within the Nationalist Action Party (MHP), a member of the coalition led by Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP). “The way I celebrated the match is linked to my Turkish identity. I saw people in the stadium who also made this gesture,” the player later justified himself. “I just wanted to show how happy and proud I was.”

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