Greek soccer player gets life ban for Nazi salute

AEK Athens midfielder Giorgos Katidis raises his hand in a Nazi style salute, as his teammate Roger Guerreiro looks on, as he celebrates scoring the winning goal in a Greek league game against Veria in Athens' Olympic Stadium, Saturday, March 16, 2013. AEK won the game 2-1. There has been no official reaction yet to the gesture, which has raised a storm of protest on the Internet. AP Photo/INTIME

ATHENS, Greece AEK Athens midfielder Giorgos Katidis has been banned from any Greek national team for life after giving a Nazi salute while celebrating a goal in the Greek league.

Greece's football federation said Sunday in a statement that the player's gesture "is a deep insult to all victims of Nazi brutality."

The 20-year-old Katidis gave a Nazi salute after scoring the winner in AEK's 2-1 victory over Veria on Saturday. His action provoked an immediate and overwhelmingly negative response on social media. Katidis apologized on TV and Twitter, pleading ignorance about the meaning of the salute.

"I am not racist in any way," Katidis said on his Twitter account, according to a Google translation.

AEK and the Greek league are also considering separate sanctions. AEK could also be penalized.

Hardcore AEK fans have issued a statement demanding Katidis' dismissal from the team.

Katidis has played for Greek junior teams.

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