ATHENS, Greece, March 17 (UPI) -- A Greek soccer player says the seeming Nazi salute he gave after scoring a goal was no such thing.
Giorgos Katidis of EK Athens received a lifetime ban even though he insisted he wasn't thinking fascism when he stripped off his jersey raised his arm to the crowd while celebrating a goal against Veria during a Super League match Saturday.
"I despise fascism," Katidis remarked on Twitter after reportedly being peppered with criticism from other players and various Greek politicians.
"I would not have done it if I knew what something like this meant," Katidis wrote. "I know what the consequences are and I would never have done it."
Katidis said he was actually pointing into the stands where an ailing teammate, to whom he dedicated the goal, was sitting.
EK Athens Coach Ewald Lienen, who is from Germany, stuck up for the 20-year-old Katidis. "He hasn't got a clue about politics," he said.
The apparent cluelessness appeared to cost Katidis dearly. He was handed a lifetime ban from all Greek national teams by EPO, the Greek soccer federation.
"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," EPO said in a written statement.
EK Athens said team executives would meet with Katidis this week to decide if any disciplinary action was warranted.
The ekathimerini.com website said Katidis' timing did not help the situation. Saturday was the 70th anniversary of the mass deportation of Jews from the Greek city of Thessaloniki by the Nazis during World War II.
A right-wing Greek party contributed its view to the controversy, calling the so-called salute an ancient Greek greeting.
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