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French politicians call for action after Turkish players repeat military salute

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French politicians and ministers have called for sanctions against the Turkish national football team after its players repeated a military salute during Monday’s Euro 2020 qualifier against France.

Several leading politicians in the country had previously called for the game in Paris to be canceled after Turkey’s footballers performed the same gesture during Friday’s victory over Albania.

The salute came days after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan launched an incursion into Syria to drive Kurdish forces away from the border, following US President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw all remaining American forces out of northern Syria.

After the match, the official Twitter page for the Turkish national team uploaded a table of Group H — with Turkey still top following the 1-1 draw — with the players’ salute as the background image.

“Thanks to the (French) federation and the police for their work to ensure the smooth running of the game,” France’s sports minister Roxana Maracineanu said following the game.

“The Turkish players spoiled these efforts by doing a military salute, against sportsmanship. I ask UEFA for an exemplary sanction.”

READ: ‘Soldiers of an enemy army’ — French politicians call for football match against Turkey to be canceled

Meanwhile, Eric Ciotti, a senior member of conservative party Les Republicains, tweeted: “The military salute of the Turkish players in solidarity with the army of #Erdogan who is killing our Kurdish allies had no place last night at the Stade de France!

“Football does not have to be a vector of military propaganda and such infamous causes!”

Alexis Corbiere, a senior member of populist left-wing party France Insoumise, added: “The Turkish army strikes the Kurds, murders civilians and meanwhile, in France, the players on their team salute their troops and we remain in NATO with Turkey without contesting it. In short, we’re enabling it.”

The Turkish Football Federation was not immediately available for comment.

On Saturday, France — along with Germany — announced it would be halting the sale of arms to Turkey following the country’s incursion into Syria.

Before the game, there had been concerns that the visiting Turkish supporters would boo or whistle the French national anthem; President of the French Football Federation, Noel Le Graet, reportedly said the music of the Marseillaise would be loud enough to drown out any dissent.

However, no such incident occurred as both sets of fans respected the opposition national anthems.

The moment the Turkish players enacted the military salute was not shown by French broadcaster M6.

UEFA investigation

UEFA, European football’s governing body, told CNN later Tuesday that is has opened an investigation into the incidents against Albania and France.

“An Ethics and Disciplinary Inspector has been appointed to initiate disciplinary investigations with regard to potential provocative political behavior by players of the national team of the Turkish Football Federation,” the statement read.

UEFA regulations say that national associations may be subject to disciplinary measures for “the use of gestures, words, objects or any other means to transmit a provocative message that is not fit for a sports event, particularly provocative messages that are of a political, ideological, religious or offensive nature.”

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