Greek footballer Giorgos Katidis banned for Nazi salute

Giorgos Katidis celebrates his goal during a Super League match against Veria at the Olympic stadium in Athens on 16 March. Katidis insists he did not know what the gesture meant

A Greek footballer has been banned for life from playing for the national team after making a Nazi salute.

AEK Athens midfielder Giorgos Katidis, 20, made the gesture to celebrate his winning goal during a Saturday match.

The Greek football federation called it "a severe provocation" that insulted "all the victims of Nazi bestiality".

Katidis denied he gave a Nazi salute. "I am not a fascist and would not have done it if I had known what it meant," Katidis said on his Twitter account.

The player - a former captain of Greece's under-19 team - was fiercely criticised on social media for the salute after scoring the winner in AEK's 2-1 victory over Veria in the Olympic stadium on Saturday.

He insisted he was simply pointing at a team mate in the stands.

The club have asked him to explain himself at a board meeting next week.

But AEK's German coach Ewald Lienen has backed Katidis.

"He is a young kid who does not have any political ideas. He most likely saw such a salute on the internet or somewhere else and did it without knowing what it means," he said, according to Reuters news agency.

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