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UEFA Investigates Turkish Soccer Player Merih Demiral for Terrorist Salute During Goal Celebration

Turkish Soccer Player Merih Demiral

A Turkish football player by the name Merih Demiral is under investigation by UEFA for making the Grey Wolf hand gesture during a Euro 2024 match. This occurred after he scored his second goal in Turkey's 2-1 victory over Austria, securing a spot in the quarterfinals. The gesture in question is associated with the Grey Wolves, an ultra-nationalist terrorist group in Turkey.

Following his decisive goal, Demiral made a hand signal linked to the Grey Wolves, also known as Ülkü Ocakları in Turkish. In a post-match interview, Demiral expressed pride in his actions, stating, "I am very proud because I am Turkish, so after the goal, I felt strongly about it, and I am very happy that I did it." He also shared an image of his celebration on his Twitter account, further amplifying the situation.

The incident has sparked significant reactions. Germany's Interior Minister, Nancy Faeser, condemned the gesture, stating on X, "The symbols of Turkish right-wing extremists have no place in our stadiums. Using the European Football Championship as a platform for racism is completely unacceptable."

The Grey Wolves were founded in the 1960s as the youth wing of the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), currently allied with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's ruling Justice and Development Party. Over the years, the group has been involved in politically motivated violence, targeting leftist groups and minorities such as Kurds and Armenians. As a result, the Grey Wolves have been described as a racist and neo-fascist paramilitary organization.

The Grey Wolves have been banned in France, and Austria has outlawed the use of their three-finger salute, which resembles a wolf's head. In May 2021, the European Parliament urged EU member states to designate the Grey Wolves as a terrorist organization. Despite these allegations, members of the Grey Wolves deny any political extremism, claiming to be a cultural and educational foundation.

UEFA announced that an inspector has been appointed to investigate Demiral's actions. While the investigation's conclusion and potential consequences remain uncertain, Demiral could face a fine or a match ban according to UEFA's rulebook. Turkey's next match is against the Netherlands in Berlin on Saturday, adding urgency to the situation.

This is not the first time Demiral has faced scrutiny for his actions on the field. In 2019, he was one of 16 Turkish players reprimanded for making military-style salutes during games while Turkey was conducting a military offensive in Syria.


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