Thursday, 18 July 2024.

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Ozil reposts image as Turkey fans do wolf salute, President Erdogan in Berlin stadium

Several groups of Turkish fans gave the controversial wolf salute during the national anthem ahead of their Euro 2024 quarter-final match against the Netherlands on Saturday, a dpa reporter on site said.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was in attendance with his wife and the Turkish federation chairman. He also greeted fans, according to footage from the Turkish state news agency Anadolu.

Turkey are out of Euro 2024 after the Dutch side came from behind to complete a 2-1 win.

Turks are angry after defender Merih Demiral was banned for two games by tournament organizer UEFA for giving the wolf salute after his second goal in the 2-1 last-16 win over Austria.

UEFA has effectively deemed the gesture to have a far-right nature after critics said it was against ethnic minorities in and around Turkey. But Turkish officials say it is nothing of the sort.

Erdogan, who defended the wolf gesture, landed in Berlin a few hours before the game and plans to return to Turkey the same evening, Erdogan’s office told dpa. No further appointments in Germany have so far been announced.

Turkey coach Vincenzo Montella refused to speak about how the political issue has affected his team following the defeat to the Netherlands.

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“It’s very hard and complicated to talk about football after a match, so I don’t have the strength to talk about anything else,” he told journalists.

Salute linked to ultra-nationalist MHP

The controversial wolf salute is attributed, among other things, to a far-right extremist movement. The movement known as “Ülkücü” or “grey wolves” are linked to Erdogan’s political allies, the ultra-nationalist MHP in Turkey.

Erdogan dismissed criticism of the gesture, saying that the player had only expressed his “enthusiasm.”

Turkish broadcaster TRT described UEFA’s decision as a “scandal” while the football federation head Mehmet Büyükeksi called it “unacceptable, illegal and political”.

Certain Turkish football fan groups had called on fans to make the wolf salute in Berlin’s Olympic Stadium during the match.

Fan march stopped due to the wolf salute

Earlier, Berlin police stopped a Turkey fan march before the game because many supporters gave the controversial salute.

A fan march is “not a platform for political messages,” the police announced on X.

In an apparently unrelated move, the two official Berlin fan zones at the Brandenburg Gate and Reichstag were temporarily closed and evacuated “due to approaching storms and squalls,” according to organizers.

But both fan zones reopened some two hours before kick-off between the Netherlands and Turkey as “the strong squalls and the potential storm have passed over Berlin and the weather situation improved considerably,” organizers said.

Özil reposts image

Former Germany player Mesut Özil stirred the pot further by sharing a photograph on Instagram of Demiral’s wolf salute, in a show of support for the Euro 2024 quarter-finalists.

He posted the photograph a few hours before the game, along with the caption “Come on Turkey!”. He then posted another story suggesting he is heading to the game.

Özil’s Germany career effectively ended after he was photographed with Erdogan in 2018, sparking a backlash in Germany about where the German-born Turk’s loyalties lay.

On Saturday, Özil was spotted at the stadium during the game sitting behind Erdogan.

dpa

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