KEIR RADNEDGE in DOHA: The Greek footballer who made a Nazi gesture after scoring a goal at the weekend was dismissed as “totally stupid” today at a sports security conference here.
But Wilfried Lemke, the sports adviser to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, went on to use the incident as an illustration of the importance of using sport as a vehicle for education.
Lemke was addressing a panel entitled ‘Levelling the playing field: the power of sport to erase discrimination’ at the ICSS Securing Sport conference.
On Saturday Katidis, an AEK Athens midfielder, saluted his club’s fans with the fascist gesture to celebrate what proved the winning goal in a 2-1 victory over struggling Veria.
Katidis, formerly captain of Greece’s under-19 team, was attacked widely on social media networks. Later he responded, via Twitter: “I am not a fascist and would not have done it if I had known what it meant.”
His insistence that he had no knowledge of the significance of his gesture was picked up by Lemke.
The one-time Werder Bremen general manager said: “He was totally stupid to do this but it’s a question of bad education and now he is being punished by his football association.
“This is something we have to teach our children – precisely why we should fight against such movements in all our societies. That [this incident] happened it is a very bad thing but the answer is education.”
Earlier, Lemke had insisted on sport’s illustration as a vehicle for equality and force against discrimination.
He said: “You can learn a lot through sport about how to integrate people to work on tolerance and to respect each other. Remember all the big campaigns of FIFA and UEFA, fighting against racism, fighting for equality.”
FIFA task force
World federation FIFA is just setting up an anti-discrimination task force under the leadership of Jeffrey Webb, the Cayman Islandsbanker who is president of the central and north American confederation.
Lemke added: “All people are equal in this world. We don’t have the right to exclude anybody. We have to find ways to build bridges between people in the world and we can use sport.
“There are so many unbelievably positive things about sport and I am strongly convinced negative aspects – such as doping and illegal betting and violence and racism – are heavily outweighed by the positive benefit of sport all over the world.”
Earlier Mohammed Hanzab, president of the International Centre reviewed the history of the two-year-old organisation and its Hoovering-up of agreements with various independent, academic and governmental organisations.
The latest agreements – freshly inked here – were with the Organisation of American States and the Qatar Football Association.
Hanzab said: “We have grown from being an idea on Powerpoint to being a reality . . . we don’t want anyone to start from scratch or have to re-invent the wheel.”
More than 400 delegates from the security and sports industry were welcomed by Major-General Saad Al Khulefa, director general of the public police, on behalf of Interior Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani.
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