AEK midfielder Giorgos Katidis conceded the “stupidity” of his actions after he was given a life ban from all national teams by the Greek soccer federation on Sunday for making a Nazi salute to fans during a match.
The 20-year-old, a former captain of Greece’s under-19 team, made the gesture in celebrating his winning goal in a 2-1 Super League victory over Veria on Saturday.
Katidis apologized and asked to be dropped from AEK’s first team.
“I would like to confess that I am totally unacceptable and I feel terrible for those I upset with the stupidity of my act,” Katidis said in a statement.
“I made the mistake so I will be the one to pay for it, AEK is not responsible. So that is why I have decided to put myself out of the team because I have now realized how much I have offended the history of the club,” he said.
“Also, I understand fully the reasons for the decision made by the Greek Football Federation to which I owe a huge apology as it has helped me to get where I am in the professional game,” Katidis said.
Katidis reiterated that he was not a fascist or racist.
“Unfortunately, I cannot take the clock back, but I want to clarify that I am not a fascist or neo-Nazi or racist. I have a step brother from Puerto Rico and all my family are from the Black Sea, and have experienced racism in the worst ways,” he said.
“There is no reason to look for excuses. I was completely wrong and I will pay for it with a lot of pain because, despite being only 20 years old, my career is now at risk,” Katidis said.
“I sincerely apologize to my teammates and everyone involved with the club that I have insulted in not knowing exactly what I had done in my celebration. Nonetheless, the fact that I did not know what I was doing is no excuse,” he said.
AEK will decide his future at a board meeting next week.
He was heavily criticized by political parties and fans on Twitter and Facebook following the incident.
“The player’s action to salute to spectators in a Nazi manner is a severe provocation, insults all the victims of Nazi bestiality, and injures the deeply pacifist and human character of the game,” the Greek federation said in statement.
Super League president Giannis Moralis said his organization would consider sanctions against the player at next week’s executive board meeting.
AEK’s German coach Ewald Lienen 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.