Türkiye has summoned the German ambassador after sharp criticism of Turkish national footballer Merih Demiral’s goal celebration at the European Championships.

UEFA is investigating Demiral for a controversial gesture made after scoring in the Euro 2024 last-16 match against Austria.

Demiral performed the wolf salute with his fingers, a gesture linked to Idealists’ Hearths, a foundation affiliated with the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).

The gesture was condemned by German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser, politicians and rights groups, who called for a UEFA investigation.

Meanwhile, Türkiye hit back at the criticism.

UEFA said on Wednesday it was looking into potential “inappropriate behavior” from Demiral and that “further information regarding this matter will be made available in due course.”

Potential sanctions could affect his participation in Saturday’s quarterfinal against the Netherlands.

Demiral attributed the gesture to his “Turkish identity” after the match, stating it contained no secret message.

“I also saw people in the stadium making the gesture. We are all Turks, I am very proud to be a Turk, and that is what the gesture is all about. I just wanted to demonstrate how happy and proud I am,” he said.

Demiral also received backing from his home country.

The leader of the nationalist MHP, Devlet Bahceli, described UEFA’s initiation of proceedings against the player as a “provocation.”

The move was “extremely biased and wrong.” UEFA was thus jumping on “the bandwagon of evil” of those “who are obviously hostile to the Turks and Türkiye.”

The Turkish Foreign Ministry described the investigation as unacceptable.

Not every person displaying the sign of the Idealists’ Hearths could be labeled as a right-wing extremist, it said. Moreover, the wolf salute is not banned in Germany, and the reactions of the German authorities were “xenophobic.”

Faeser expressed outrage on the X platform, saying that “symbols of Turkish right-wing extremists have no place in our stadiums.”

“Using the European Football Championship as a platform for racism is completely unacceptable,” she added.

“Our security authorities are keeping a close eye on Turkish right-wing extremists in Germany. The ‘Grey Wolves’ are under observation by the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution,” the German minister explained.

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