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Turkiye defender, Merih Demiral handed two match ban for making a gesture linked to far-right extremist group

Turkey defender, Merih Demiral has been handed a two-match ban for making a gesture linked to a far-right extremist group, ruling him out of Turkey’s Euro 2024 quarter-final and a possible semi-final.

The Al-Ahli defender scored twice in his country’s 2-1 last-16 win on Tuesday, booking them a quarter-final meeting with the Netherlands.But the 26-year-old’s controversial celebration after his second goal prompted a UEFA probe over alleged ‘inappropriate behaviour’.

The governing body has now confirmed he has been banned for two matches ‘for violating the basic rules of decent conduct, for using sports events for manifestations of a non-sporting nature and for bringing the sport of football into disrepute’.

Demiral’s gesture, a ‘wolf’s salute’, is associated with the Grey Wolves, a far-right extremist group in Turkey.

The gesture allegedly performed by Demiral is banned in France and Austria.

The ban was introduced in Austria in 2019 after a law prohibiting ‘extremist organisation’ symbols was passed. The gesture can result in fines of up to €4,000 (£3,400).

But in 2019, Turkey’s government criticised Austria’s stance, claiming the ban equated a symbol of a legal political party with that of the PKK, a Kurdish militant movement considered a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the US and the EU.

After the match, Demiral explained why he had performed the gesture.

‘I had a specific celebration in mind, something connected to my Turkish identity. I am incredibly proud to be Turkish, and I felt that pride deeply after scoring,’ he said.

‘I wanted to express that, and I’m very happy I did. Our fans are proud of us. I saw them doing the gesture in the stands, and it made me want to do it even more.’

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