French politicians asking to cancel France-Turkey match over salute
Published: 09:09 PM, 14 October 2019 Updated: 11:23 PM, 14 October 2019
Several leading French politicians have called for France’s Euro 2020 qualifier against Turkey in Paris to be called off after Turkish players enacted a military salute in Friday's victory over Albania.
The salute was made following Cenk Tosun’s stoppage-time winner against Albania in Istanbul, which maintained Turkey place at the top of Group H.
After the match, the official Twitter page for the Turkish national team uploaded a photo showing the entire squad and coaching staff making the same gesture in the changing room, with the caption saying the players "have dedicated their victory to our brave soldiers and fellow martyrs."
Jean-Luc Melenchon, leader of France's populist left-wing party France Insoumise, tweeted: "If Turkish footballers do the military salute, they must expect to be treated as the soldiers of an enemy army. So we do not play football against them. The basics of sportsmanship are no longer there!"
Meanwhile, Jean Christophe Lagarde, leader of the centre-right UDI, said: "With this military salute, the Turkish football team has broken the border that must separate sports from politics. We cannot welcome with decency at the Stade de France tomorrow those who salute the slaughter of our Kurdish allies."
The Turkish Football Federation was not immediately available for comment ahead of Monday's match.
The President of the French Football Federation, Noel Le Graet, reportedly said the music of the Marseillaise -- France's national anthem -- will be loud enough to drown out any boos or whistles from the visiting Turkish supporters.
The gesture 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.
On Saturday, France along with Germany announced it would be halting the sale of arms to Turkey following the country's incursion into Syria.
Around 3,800 Turkish fans are expected at a sellout 78,000 capacity Stade de France for Monday's match. On Turkey's last visit to France in 2009, the match had to be temporarily halted after visiting fans through flares and projectiles onto the pitch.
Euro 2020 will be the first time the European Championships have been held across the continent, with 12 cities from 12 countries being chosen as host venues.
UEFA laws say that nationwide associations is also mattered to disciplinary measures for “using gestures, phrases, gadgets or some other approach to transmit a provocative message that isn’t have compatibility for a sports activities match, specifically provocative messages which might be of a political, ideological, non-secular or offensive nature.”
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