Nazi, Moi? Perish The Thought, Says Nazi-Saluting Soccer Player

It’s hard not to spend all of one’s time trying to decipher the mind of Giorgos Katidis.

Should you have spent your recent hours being hypnotized by malevolent dwarves, Katidis is the Greek soccer player who scored a goal, took off his shirt and then made what seemed a rather accurate impression of a Nazi salute.

What’s odd is that images from the game show him making the salute more than once, as if he rather enjoyed the experience.

Please don’t imagine that Nazi salutes are entirely invisible in Europe. You’ll see them around soccer stadiums and city squares in places like Italy and Croatia.

The former Italian soccer player Paolo Di Canio wasn’t immune from making that sort of gesture.

His defense was quite spectacularly nuanced: “I am a fascist, not a racist.”

Katidis, though, has wafted his mind onto an entirely different plane.

Firstly, as the Daily Mail reports, he claimed that, as a matter of fact, he hated Nazis.

No, really. The matter of fact that he made what to all the world seemed like a Nazi salute seems to have passed him by entirely.

Ignorance? Or bliss?

Ignorance? Or bliss?

So why might he have made this gesture? Oh, he claims that he was pointing to Michalis Pavlis.

Oddly, this is not the leader of a Greek neo-Fascist party. It’s a teammate who is experiencing a little injury.

The act of pointing generally involves the use of one’s index finger.

Unless you are a waiter in a very posh restaurant, in which case the little finger is the preferred mode of indication.

Still, I’ve never seen anyone point to anyone else by raising their right arm while keeping all their fingers together.

I suspect that even Hitler, when he wanted to point to an especially fetching blonde girl in an adoring crowd, would have used an index finger.

The Nazi salute would have been, well, misinterpreted.

Some of his teammates believe that Katidis is merely profoundly stupid.

Perhaps they were moved by his statement: “I am not racist in any way. I abhor fascism. I would not have done it if I knew that it meant something. I know the consequences and would not do it ever.”

Katidis is 20. Perhaps they never taught history in any of his classes. In any case, many soccer players eschew education, as all that sitting can tighten the calves and hamstrings to excess.

What some might find entertaining — in a “Ingluorious Basterds” kind of way — is that his coach at the AEK Athens club, Ewald Lienen, is German.

Lienen was quoted in the Mail as saying: “He is a young kid who does not have any political ideas. He most likely saw such a salute on the internet or somewhere else and did it without knowing what it means.”

This might be translated as: “Oh, goodness. He’s a decent player. Now I might lose him for some important games over a bloody Nazi salute?”

But, yes. Let’s blame the Internet. There’s so much information there that it can be confusing.

The Greek Soccer Federation has moved rather quickly to condemn Katidis’s ignorance (or Fascism). It has banned him from playing for the national team for life.

He hasn’t actually played for the national team. But, just in case.

Ignorance, though, is never to be underestimated.

We all have it. We all had it when we were younger. Sometimes, we secretly enjoy it. Sometimes, we even use it for gain.

It lives within us like an annoying uncle who sometimes gives us money.

The question, though, is whether Katidis was expressing ignorance or bliss.

I fear that this may have been a peculiarly ignorant sort of bliss.


Image: Goaaalllaaal24/YouTube Screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk