A two-handed "wolf salute" given by a Turkish football player during the Euro 2024 tournament has sparked an escalating diplomatic spat between Ankara and Berlin. (Photo by Jonathan Moscrop/Getty Images)


Euro 2024 ‘wolf salute’ sparks Turkey-Germany diplomatic spat


A two-handed “wolf salute” given by a Turkish football player during the Euro 2024 football tournament sparked an escalating diplomatic spat between Ankara and host nation Germany.

Merih Demiral appeared to have made the gesture during his country’s 2:1 victory over Austria on July 2, sparking condemnation from German politicians due to the salute’s links with the hard-right Turkish nationalist movement, the Grey Wolves.

“The symbols of Turkish right-wing extremists have no place in our stadiums,” Germany’s Antifa-linked interior minister Nancy Faeser wrote online after the game.

“Using the European Football Championship as a platform for racism is completely unacceptable. We expect UEFA to investigate the case and consider sanctions.”

She added that, while neither the Grey Wolves nor the wolf salute were banned in Germany, the country’s authorities “are keeping a close eye on Turkish right-wing extremists”.

“The Grey Wolves are under observation by the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution,” she said.

Faeser’s denunciation sparked anger in Ankara, with the Turkish Government summoning the German Ambassador to explain the left-wing politician’s actions.

“The statement made by … Faeser targeting our national football player Merih Demiral’s goal celebration and the investigation initiated by UEFA is unacceptable,” said Ömer Çelik, an adviser to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Erdoğan has taken steps to rally his national team. His office announced he would visit Germany to watch Turkey play in the quarter-final against the Netherlands on July 6.

The backlash has not stopped Faeser from getting her way, with UEFA announcing on July 5 that Demiral would receive a two-match ban over the controversial hand gesture.