President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Thursday condemned UEFA, European football’s governing body, for launching an investigation into military salutes given by Turkish nationals at international games, citing discrimination, the Hürriyet Daily News reported.
“When it comes to Turkey and Turkish athletes, the attitude [of UEFA] changes,” Erdoğan said at a press conference, adding that Europe’s football body should not let sports be politicized with their wrong decisions.
He said the UEFA action targeting Turkish athletes’ solidarity with the Turkish army was “an obvious unlawfulness” as it described these celebrations as “provocative political behavior.”
Erdoğan added that Turkish athletes representing their country abroad had faced a “systematic lynching campaign” since the launch of Turkey’s two-week-long cross-border military operation against Kurdish militia in Syria.
Turkish athletes have been celebrating with salutes in tribute to the Turkish soldiers engaged at the front line.
Erdoğan also referred to French football star Antoine Griezmann’s celebratory salute to French President Emmanuel Macron in Moscow after Les Bleus’ success in the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
The Barcelona forward faced no UEFA probe.
In October UEFA launched an inquiry after the EURO 2020 qualifiers in Istanbul and France where Turkish players gave military-style salutes in celebration of goals.
This probe was requested by France.