Giving the wrong kind of salute

Soccer players are the best actors. When they score a goal, it’s their cue to play up the cameras. They scream, hug, pull off their shirts and stand in the middle of the field stoically, Balotelli style.

Twenty-year-old Greek soccer player Giorgos Katidis was banned from the Greek Football Federation for life for giving the Nazi salute after scoring a goal during last weekend’s game against Veria.

Katidis is playing innocent. First he claimed he was pointing to an ill teammate in the stands after his victory. His story then switched to a plea of ignorance. He said that he didn’t know the meaning of the gesture and quickly took to his Twitter account to say that he is against fascism.

Fans and political personalities on Twitter and Facebook were fired up and found Katidis’ actions unacceptable. Katidis owned up to the gesture in a statement by saying: “I am totally unacceptable and I feel terrible for those I upset with the stupidity of my act.”

The young midfielder has asked to be dropped from his team, AEK Athens, as he does not want his actions to reflect the club as a whole. A decision on what actions to take against him will be made sometime next week at the Super League’s executive meeting.

Many people, including his coach, are defending Katidis. They say he is young and probably saw the salute somewhere online, not understanding its meaning.

I’m 20 years old and I am educated enough to know that whipping out the Nazi salute is not ok, in any situation, for any reason. I think that is a bogus excuse and if anything just goes to show how really ignorant this young man is.

The Nazi salute is still finding its way into the awareness of younger generations, and Greece is no exception. Greek far right nationalist party, The Golden Dawn, has been criticized for using the gesture. However, members argue they are using the Roman salute. The group still gets away with using a lot of neo-Nazi symbols, branding them as something else.

This past summer, citizens and Jewish organizations put student protesters in Montreal under fire as some protesters were using the salute. Their reason: mocking the police for their brutality.

According to CBC, Quebec’s federation of university students apologized for the use of the gesture, calling it an error in judgment.

When you are trying to get a point across, this probably isn’t the way to go. Using a gesture like this one just leads to your intended message being pushed to the background and is considered offensive by many. It has a negative connotation because of history and therefore gets all the attention.

The issue here is that people tend to cry freedom of speech in these situations. They blame people for perceiving the gesture as disrespectful to the Jewish community and argue that it wasn’t their intended message.

People tend to forget that “freedom of speech” does not mean freedom from the consequences of your actions.

In this case, it’s the consequences of using the arm-outstretched, flat palm gesture so lightly, despite it being synonymous with a dictator responsible for the death of millions of people. I’m sure you can find another way to express yourself without being so ignorant.

As for Katidis, I am not sure what his use of the gesture even had to do with him celebrating a goal. This makes me question whether he may actually just be a young goon who had no idea what he was doing at the time. If that’s the case, someone needs to give him a time-out from the footy and pass him a history book.

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