A big fat Greek soccer and racism controversy

Okay, I’ve got a couple of posts here that will probably wind up being posted in relatively quick succession. Both deal with similar topics (racism), but are completely different situations. This is the first of two.

The BBC reported on a Greek soccer player, Giorgos Katidis, who got in trouble for a Nazi salute. Giorgos has been banned from playing for the Greek national soccer team, and suspended from his professional soccer club.

This commentary post on backpagefootball.com takes a pretty critical angle towards Giorgos, who claims that he is not a facist at all, had no idea what a Nazi salute was, and claims he was simply pointing towards a friend in the stands. Further down, that article goes into further detail on Golden Dawn and the bad blood between soccer fans in both Albania and Greece and why this is an even bigger deal than it otherwise would be.

I believe most of what Giorgos is saying, but it is difficult for me to believe the bit about pointing. Usually, one does not point with the whole hand oriented in a salute position, one would point with one finger outstretched (specifically, the index finger).

I’d like to think Giorgos is telling the truth about not knowing what a Nazi salute is. It’s difficult to believe, but it’s still technically possible. Certainly, now he knows and won’t do it again.

I hate fascism and I agree in principle that there’s no place for it in professional sports anywhere. But I think the accused has a right to be heard and explain himself as well. I don’t like that backpagefootball.com uses the headline “ignorance is no excuse” (I’m linking to them because it’s the only commentary I could readily find).