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Euro 2024. Merih Demiral punished, and Erdogan wants to come to Berlin

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Within a few seconds Demiral went from being a hero to a controversial figure. The centre-back was the central figure in the surprising 2-1 victory in the round of 16 of the European Championship against Austriascoring two goals. After the final whistle, the 26-year-old was named the best player of the match. Demiral celebrated, was euphoric – and pointed to the Turkish fans at the stadium “wolf greeting” with both hands.

An organization monitored by German services

This is the symbol of the “Grey Wolves”. They are supporters of the far-right movement “Idealistic“, which is monitored by the German Office for the Protection of the Constitution. In Turkey ultranationalist MHP is their political representative and an ally of the Islamic-conservative AKP president Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The greeting usually expresses affiliation and sympathy with the movement and its ideology.

Germany's internal intelligence rates the group as “a significant threat to the democratic order“. The ideology of the “Ülkücü” movement is attributed in the 2023 report “excessive nationalism and group hostility” like racism and anti-Semitism. With over 12,000 supporters, it is one of the largest far-right groups in Germany.

A large part of the supporters is organized in associationswhich in turn are organized under larger associations in Germany. The largest association is the Federation of Turkish Democratic Idealist Associations in Germany (ADÜTDF) with about 7,000 members in more than 200 local associations. The Union of Turkish-Islamic Cultural Associations in Europe (ATIB) and the World Order Federation in Europe (ANF) also have about 2,500 and 1,000 members.

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UEFA imposes penalty, Türkiye rejects allegations

UEFA has already initiated proceedingsand the player himself briefly explained his behavior after the match: – The way I celebrated has to do with my Turkish identity. We are all Turks, I am very proud to be Turkish and that is the meaning of this gesture.

Turkish footballer Merih Demiral celebrates scoring a goal against Austria at Euro 2024/Christopher Neundorf/PAP/EPA

The behavior of the Turkish footballer caused a political storm on both sides. The Germans and the Turks are thundering. The latter they are talking about a provocation from Berlin. Even the German ambassador has been summoned to the Foreign Ministry there. After sharp criticism of Turkish footballer Merih Demiral's victory celebration, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan intends to suddenly go to Berlin on Saturday to watch the quarter-final match Türkiye – Netherlands at the stadium. Erdogan had to cancel his planned trip to Azerbaijan – says the German press agency DPA.

Arrival of the Turkish president in Berlin It is meant to be a form of support for the local staffand especially Demiral himself. As reported by the German newspaper, “Bild”, Demiral was suspended by UEFA for two matches i he won't play in Saturday's match against the Netherlands.

Merih Demiral's gesture in the duel with Austria German politicians also criticizedincluding the head of the Ministry of Interior responsible for sports. Nancy Faeser said directly: – Symbols of Turkish far-right extremists have no place in our stadiums. Using the European Championship as a platform for racism is completely unacceptable.

And this is the statement infuriated the authorities in AnkaraThe Ministry of Interior decided that the words of the German minister are xenophobic in themselves.

From Berlin for Interia Tomasz Lejman

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