German club sacks Turkish footballer over support for Syria offensive
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.
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.