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The diplomat Ali Kemal Aydın, who lives in Germany, has condemned the criticism of the Turkish national team. The reactions bordered on racism.

The Turkish ambassador in Berlin, Ali Kemal Aydın, has sharply condemned the criticism in Germany of the military salute of Turkish national soccer players. “It borders on xenophobia, discrimination and racism,” he said in Berlin. The criticism contradicts freedom of opinion and is an example of the fact that there is again an “anti-Turkish mood” in Germany.

In the European Championship qualifying matches against Albania and France, Turkish national players had shown their military greetings with outstretched hands on their foreheads while cheering for goals, thus honouring the Turkish soldiers in Syria. In the Albania game, the Bundesliga pros Kaan Ayhan and Kenan Karaman from Fortuna Düsseldorf also took part in the gesture, but they no longer salute France. Their club had previously “clearly distanced itself from any supposedly politically motivated action that violated the club’s values”.

Uefa has initiated proceedings

The excitement about the military greeting on the pitch was difficult for him to understand, said Aydın. The players had only honoured soldiers who risked their lives for their fatherland. “This is quite normal and human,” said the ambassador. “We think it’s wrong that these players have been so pilloried.”

Aydın also sharply criticised the German media. “Some media here are ranting the population on these players. We don’t accept that; we find it strange.”

The Uefa had initiated proceedings against the Turkish association after criticising the goal celebration. The Control, Ethics and Disciplinary Chamber of the Uefa will meet on Thursday. It is unclear whether the committee will then already deal with the salute cheers of the Turkish national players.

The Uefa prohibits political statements of any kind in its statutes. In the past, the fans in the stands had mostly been responsible for the incidents, and in some cases, severe punishments had been imposed.

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