07.07.2024 15:34 h

Erdogan says UEFA ban on Turkey's Demiral 'political'

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday said UEFA's two-game ban on Turkey defender Merih Demiral for making a ultra-nationalist salute was "political" and overshadowed the championship.

The Turkish leader cancelled his visit to Azerbaijan and travelled to Berlin on Saturday to watch the quarter-final at the Olympiastadion in the German capital, which tens of thousands of Turks attended.

The Netherlands came from behind to beat Turkey 2-1 to reach the Euro 2024 semi-finals.

Demiral, who scored twice against Austria, could not play Saturday after UEFA suspended him for two matches after making a controversial salute during celebrations, associated with Turkish right-wing extremist group Grey Wolves.

"To put it bluntly, UEFA's two-match ban for Merih has cast a serious shadow over the championship," Erdogan was quoted as telling journalists on a plane from Berlin, the official Anadolu news agency reported.

"This cannot be explained, it is a purely political decision," he added.

Erdogan however said the decision did not affect the team's motivation.

"Despite all the negatives... we watched a thrilling game," Erdogan said.

Turkey coach Vincenzo Montella said Friday that Demiral's ban was "unfair".