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UEFA further politicises sport given Merih's suspension after his hand gesture

7 July 2024 20:42 (UTC+04:00)
UEFA further politicises sport given Merih's suspension after his hand gesture
Elnur Enveroglu
Elnur Enveroglu
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UEFA’s frustrated decision to suspend Merih Demiral on Friday for two games in the Euro 2024 tournament still poses serious concerns about Euro 2024 qualifier games. His making an allegedly “far-right gesture” or “grey wolf” (boz qurd) in a match against Austria has in fact nothing more than demonstrating a Turkic symbolism.

The Union of European Football Associations said that it made this decision regarding Merih's hand gesture claiming that it is against the rules and traditions of the sport. Although such a step taken by UEFA was the first, the pressure against the Turkish football team was more political than adhering to sports discipline.

What does this hand gesture stand for?

"Bozgurd" sign, greeting (stretching the index fingers forward and bringing the two middle fingers to the tip of the thumb) is a Turkish symbol that came from Altai. The majority of those who carry the idea of ​​nationalism, Turkism and Turanism have chosen the sign "Bozgurd" as a symbol of their ideological affiliation.

Bozgurd gesture has pre-Islamic roots; it was attributed to Turkic peoples from Buddhist culture. Historical studies show that various Turkic peoples, such as the Huns, Kipchaks and Pechenegs who migrated from it to the West, used this sign to represent their descendants. This symbol is also found in the "Shahnama" of the 10th century Iranian poet Ferdowsi, which includes miniatures of Turkish women who made the wolf sign. Besides, in China, there is a 6th-century statue of a Turkic khan who made the Bozgurd sign. It was found in a cave and belongs to the period of the pre-Islamic Gokturks. Despite its secular character, Alparslan Türkeş constantly tried to Islamize it in order to adapt it to Turkish-Islamic synthesis.

What is the most frustrating UEFA?

In fact, from a legal point of view, there is no ban on the "grey wolf" sign in any European country. This symbol has never been associated with nationalist movements or crimes committed on ethnic grounds. This hand gesture, which reflects only a historical symbol, does not point to anyone, nor does it promote any radical religious, ideological propaganda organization. But what is the real reason that exasperated the UEFA that punished the Turkish football player? Maybe the German government has become more xenophobic.

Recently, more anti-Islamic posts on social networks have led to an increase in aggression against the Turkish nation and especially Muslims. The unfortunate fact is that some ultra-right politicians and government officials themselves support such sharing. UEFA's reaction to a simple gesture by Merih Demiral based on a political motive reflects the approach of those political circles. It is also a biased approach of Western politicians to the principles of “democracy” that they symbolically idolize.

Because Merih did not chant nationalist slogans like Albanian striker, Mirlind Daku did with his fans against Macedonia and Serbia after the Albania-Croatia match. Or Turkish team did not disrespect the territorial integrity of any country by flying any separatist flag in the middle of the stadium.

In order to cover up its political position in the world of sports, UEFA, of course, could not find any excuse other than exaggerating every little issue and calling it a "provocative message". However, a simple hand gesture of a Turkish football player did not violate the sovereignty of any state or international law. It seems that only Merih Demiral's rights were violated…


Elnur Enveroglu is AzerNews’ deputy editor-in-chief, follow him on @ElnurMammadli1

Follow us on Twitter @AzerNewsAz

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