Skip to main content

German club sacks Turkish footballer over support for Syria offensive

Turkey's national team also showed support by celebrating goal with military salute
Turkish players celebrate goal against France with a salute (AFP)

A German football team have sacked a player over his vocal support for the military operation Turkey launched in northeastern Syria last week. 

The second division club St Pauli, which is well known for its left-wing supporter base, announced on Monday that they had released Turkish player Cenk Sahin after a review of comments he made on Instagram, claiming what he'd written showed "disregard for the club’s values". 

Last week, Sahin posted a message of support on Instagram for Turkey's controversial operation in northeastern Syria, where it plans to create a buffer zone along its border by clearing it of Kurdish fighters. 

“We’re on the side of our heroic military and armies. Our prayers are with you,” Sahin said in a post that has since been deleted. 

The operation has had popular support in Turkey and the Turkish national team celebrated a goal against France on Monday with a military salute.

Stay informed with MEE's newsletters

Sign up to get the latest alerts, insights and analysis, starting with Turkey Unpacked


Everton and Turkey striker Cenk Tosun also posted a picture of the salute on Instagram, which was then liked by Arsenal's Mesut Ozil. Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan gave a speech at Ozil's wedding earlier this year.  

"It's wrong to look for malicious intentions in the soldier's salute", Turkish coach Senol Gunes told a post-match press conference. "We are doing it to look out for our soldiers. We are not doing it so that our soldiers go and kill people." 

French newspaper L'Equipe said UEFA was considering opening disciplinary proceedings after Turkey's football federation also posted a photo of the team performing a salute while in the dressing room after playing against Albania on Friday. 

UEFA told Reuters that it had not received information yet from its disciplinary department regarding this week's qualifiers.

Middle East Eye delivers independent and unrivalled coverage and analysis of the Middle East, North Africa and beyond. To learn more about republishing this content and the associated fees, please fill out this form. More about MEE can be found here.