Turkey football players make military salute after Syria offensive

Turkey football players in trouble for making military salute following Ankara's Syria offensive
2 min read
15 October, 2019
UEFA was already looking into Turkish players' salutes during a Friday win when footballers repeated the statement in their Monday draw with France.
Turkish footballers make a military salute after their equaliser during a UEFA Euro qualifier [Getty]

Turkish football players defied UEFA by making a "military salute" during a European Champaionship qualifier on Monday against France, days after Ankara launched a military offensive on Kurdish positions in northern Syria.

UEFA was already looking into Turkish players' salutes during Turkey's 1-0 win over Albania on Friday. The European soccer federation prohibits political statements in stadiums.

But Turkish players lined up again to show a military salute after Kaan Ayhan's late equalizer in Paris.

Captain Burak Yilmaz was joined by goalkeeper Mert Günok and several other outfield players in giving the salute toward the crowd - which appeared to signal support for Turkish forces involved in the country's offensive into Kurdish-held regions in northern Syria.

Defender Merih Demiral urged Ayhan to salute, too, leading to what looked like a heated discussion between the two players. The goalscorer desisted and made his way back to the pitch.

Ayhan and Turkey striker Kenan Karaman both play for German side Fortuna Düsseldorf, which had issued a statement after Friday's game to distance itself from "politically motivated acts".

"Both players stand for values that the club lives by," Düsseldorf sporting director Lutz Pfannenstiel said.

Ankara defied growing condemnation from its NATO allies to press ahead with its invasion of northern Syria on Tuesday, shelling suspected Kurdish positions near the border amid reports that the SDF had retaken a key town.

Targeting Turkey's economy, US President Donald Trump on Monday announced sanctions aimed at restraining Ankara's assault against Kurdish fighters and civilians in Syria.

Syria Weekly: Syria's north is up for grabs as Turkey offensive begins

The US also called on Turkey to stop the offensive and declare a ceasefire, while European Union countries moved to broaden an arms sale embargo against their easternmost ally.

Now in its seventh day, Turkey's offensive has sowed fear and chaos in an already war-weary region - and upended alliances amid Syria's eight-year conflict.

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