A young Greek soccer player has been banned for life from playing soccer for the national team after making a nazi salute during a soccer game. The twenty year old, former captain of Greece’s under-19, Giorgos Katidis, made the gesture as he celebrated his winning goal in AEK Athens’s 2-1 Super League victory over lowly Veria. Katidis, a midfielder, asked to be dropped from the AEK first team. In his statement Katidis said, I would like to confess that I am totally unacceptable and I feel terrible for those I upset with the stupidity of my act.” He originally said that he did not understand the significance of the gesture and that he was just pointing. But ignorance is no defense. Greece’s Soccer Federation said the gesture was “severely provocative” and issued the following statement. “The action by the player to salute spectators with a Nazi salute defies common sense, profoundly shows disrespect to all the victims of Nazi atrocities and injures the peaceful and deeply human character of football.” AEK’s German coach, Ewald Lienen defended his young player in a statement which said, “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.” He continued, “I am 100 per cent sure that Giorgos did not know what he did. He was crying in the dressing room seeing how the media reacted. He is young and needs protection.” But being young is not an excuse for being ignorant, especially when it comes to World War II and the Nazi Holocaust. To his credit, Katidis did accept responsibility for his actions in his statement, “I made the mistake so I will be the one to pay for it, AEK is not responsible. So that is why I have decided to put myself out of the team because I have now realized how much I have offended the history of the club.” In this case, playing for the Greek National Team, the punishment fit the crime. Fascism and neo-nazis has a history in European soccer and it continues to be a problem. By making an example of Katidis, hopefully it will deter other soccer players from participating in such callous behavior.