Posted on July 7, 2024

Turkish Player’s Right-Wing ‘Wolf’ Goal Celebration Sparks Furore

Chiara Holzhaeuser and Ezgi Erkoyun, Reuters, July 3, 2024

European soccer’s governing body UEFA opened an investigation on Wednesday into a “wolf salute” goal celebration by Turkey centre back Merih Demiral which Germany condemned as racist due to its far right associations, prompting a rebuke from Ankara.

The 26-year-old defender mimicked the shape of a wolf’s head with his fingers after his second goal in Turkey’s stunning 2-1 win over Austria {snip}

The gesture is linked to the “Grey Wolves”, an ultra-nationalist youth branch of Turkey’s Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), an ally of President Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling AK Party.

“The symbols of Turkish right-wing extremists have no place in our stadiums,” Germany’s Interior Minister Nancy Faeser said in a post on X. “Using the European Football Championship as a platform for racism is completely unacceptable.”

Established in the 1960s, the “Grey Wolves” were involved in political violence between leftists and nationalists that killed some 5,000 people around the time of a 1980 coup.


It has been cracking down on misconduct during the tournament, banning Albania’s Mirlind Daku for two games after he led fans in offensive chants, and investigating England’s Jude Bellingham for a crotch-grabbing gesture.

Turkey’s foreign ministry said UEFA’s probe was unacceptable and that German authorities’ approach to Demiral “involved xenophobia”.


Elated by his man-of-the-match performance, Demiral told reporters he had planned the gesture.

“I had a celebration in mind about being Turkish. I did that (gesture). I am very proud to be a Turk, {snip}” he said after the match.