Merih Demiral: Turkey defender given two-match ban over goal celebration

Turkey defender Merih Demiral has been given a two-match ban for making an ultra-nationalist salute during his country’s Euro 2024 win against Austria.

Demiral, 26, scored both Turkey’s goals as they beat Austria 2-1 to earn a quarter-final spot against the Netherlands on Saturday.

The Al-Ahli defender celebrated his second goal with a ‘wolf salute’, a gesture associated with the far-right extremist group Grey Wolves that is linked with Turkey’s ruling coalition party the National Movement Party.

Demiral said the salute, which is banned in Austria and France, was pre-planned in case he scored in the last-16 tie.

He was charged by Uefa – European football’s governing body – for failing to comply with general principles of conduct, for violating the basic rules of decent conduct, for using sports events for manifestations of a non-sporting nature and for bringing the sport of football into disrepute.

Jude Bellingham is free to play in England’s quarter-final against Switzerland on Saturday after making a crotch-grabbing gesture as he celebrated scoring in the last-16 win over Slovakia.

The Real Madrid midfielder, 21, has been given a one-match – suspended for a year – and has also been fined £25,400 (30,000 Euros).

Osman Askın Bak, Turkey’s minister of youth and sports, responded to Demiral’s sanction on X, saying:, external “We condemn Uefa’s unfair and biased decision, which we believe has no legal basis and is entirely political.

“We will continue to seek our rights through legal means against this double standard applied to our country and our national football player Merih Demiral.

“We believe in our football players. They will also give the necessary answer on the field.”

Turkey coach Vincenzo Montella echoed the minister when speaking to the media before Saturday’s game.

“We consider it unfair, this ban, because there was not a political gesture. It was interpreted as such but it was just something that was not properly understood,” he said.

“It’s certainly not a ban that puts the breaks on Turkish pride, quite the opposite – it will be even stronger.

“It’s a symbol of the Turks and the Turks around the world and it will remain just that. Tomorrow that pride will definitely be more evident on the pitch, in the stands and with those watching on television.”

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