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Turkey Football Federation condemns ‘unlawful’ two-match ban for Merih Demiral

Merih Demiral, right, gestures to the crowd after scoring Turkey’s second goal against Austria (Adam Davy/PA)
Merih Demiral, right, gestures to the crowd after scoring Turkey’s second goal against Austria (Adam Davy/PA)

Turkey Football Federation president Mehmet Buyukeksi has called Merih Demiral’s two-match ban “unlawful” and a “political decision”.

Demiral is suspended for Turkey’s Euro 2024 quarter-final against Netherlands after being sanctioned over a wolf salute he made towards the crowd during the last-16 match with Austria in Leipzig on Tuesday.

The salute is recognised as being linked to the far-right movement in Turkey.

https://x.com/TFF_Org/status/1809284423017459953

The punishment has not been well received, with Buyukeksi saying: “It will never be acceptable.

“We consider the two-match penalty given to our player Merih Demiral by the UEFA Ethics and Disciplinary Committee as an unacceptable, unlawful and political decision.

“The sign our player made during the goal celebration is not a political sign in any way, it is a sign that has been used by Turks for centuries and symbolizes Turkishness.

“This penalty is never acceptable in this great organization where our national team made history by eliminating Austria in the last 16 rounds of the 2024 European Championship and reaching the quarter-finals.

Merih Demiral celebrates scoring Turkey's second goal against Austria
Demiral scored both goals in Turkey’s last-16 tie (Adam Davy/PA)

“Since the way to appeal and appeal to CAS is closed for suspensions of less than three matches, our right to appeal has been taken away from us with the two-match penalty. This biased and unfair decision has deeply disappointed our entire nation.

“Only the Turkish National Team is against all these injustices.

“We stand up not as an individual, but as a nation. I am sure that this unfair decision will encourage our passionate fans in Berlin, which we see as our second home, to stand behind our team, as they have done so far, stronger than ever, being careful against malicious provocations.”

Netherlands coach Ronald Koeman says his side cannot afford to let their level drop as they eye a place in the semi-final.

The Dutch are hoping to reach the last four of the European Championship for the first time since 2004.

After losing their final group game to Austria, Netherlands upped the ante in the last 16 against Romania and Koeman knows his side will have to match that level against Turkey.

“We started the tournament really well with a win against Poland and a draw against France,” he said in his pre-match press conference.

“We had a bad day against Austria.

“The last one was a really good level football wise and if we keep that level then it can be a really good tournament for us.

Netherlands players celebrate scoring a goal against Romania
Netherlands were in good form against Romania in the last 16 (Bradley Collyer/PA)

“But every match is difficult. All the big teams have struggled a little bit in different matches to win it.

“Even England scored in the last second, Portugal won by penalties.

“You have to fight for it, but the last one gave us a lot of confidence. We understand we need to keep that level.

“If we go down we won’t reach what we would like to win.”