I am an ardent fan of FIFA Soccer. It is the most watched game in sports. As international soccer fans prepare for the upcoming FIFA World Cup Championship, which is slated to take place in the summer of 2014 in Brazil, South America, I am also readying my plans to attend the 2014 World Cup. While watching international soccer games this past weekend, it was affirmed some actions – once committed – are very difficult to disavow. Giorgos Katidis is a very talented Greek soccer player. Katidis in a moment of celebration after scoring the game winning goal for his team, AEK Athens F.C., exhibited the Adolf Hitler Nazi Salute. He was immediately banned for life from Greece’s nation team. Katidis should have known that performing the Adolf Hitler salute is not only bad behavior, but also a downright absurd and foolish act. Also, as if his action was not enough, he took off his team’s jersey and exposed his tattooed body while bellowing “Heil, Hitler.” His action was a gesture one should never perform.
The Greek Soccer Federation acted immediately and ended Katidis international soccer career. Fans in Greece is also calling for him to be expelled from AEK Athens F.C. The team officials have not made a decision – as yet – what to do about the embarrassing incident. With one foolish act, Katidis has been branded a racist and fascist. Attempting to defend himself, he posted a tweet on Twitter saying he was not either a racist or fascist. He intimated if he knew what the salute meant, he would not have done it. I find it hard to believe in the 21st Century an international soccer player did not know what “Heil, Hitler” meant.
I hope this incident begins the discussion on bad behavior – there are many despicable incidents presently taking place – in international soccer. International soccer players and their fans must learn it is an honor to represent one’s country on and off the “pitch” (playing field). It is imperative the “Beautiful Game,” (soccer), remains beautiful.