Turkish footballer Cenk Tosun has faced calls for him to be shown the door at Everton Football Club after he displayed a far-right symbol during an FA Cup match with Rotherham yesterday.
He received a backlash after flashing the Grey Wolves salute during the match while celebrating a goal that was eventually chalked out for offside.
The want-away striker could face a lengthy ban and difficulty finding a new club after the far-right hand gesture.
Supporters of Crystal Palace, the London club linked to Tosun, said on social media they didn't want a racist player at Selhurst Park which could scupper a transfer.
Tosun was branded a liar after he claimed not to know anything about the far-right group which has terrorised Kurdish communities inside Turkey and across Europe for decades.
The CIA-trained outfit operated as a paramilitary force linked to the ultranationalist MHP, which forms the government in Turkey, propping up President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP).
It formed death squads that killed trade unionists, journalists and leftists. But the main target of the Sunni Islamist neo-fascists has been the Kurdish and Alevi community who it deems to be infidels.
In one of the most notorious incidents in Turkey’s blood-soaked history, the Grey Wolves killed more than 100 members of the Alevi community in an eight-day pogrom in December 1978 known as the Maras Massacre.
Between 1970 and 1980 it is believed that the far-right group was responsible for thousands of deaths including the execution of nearly 700 leftists and intellectuals.
More recently a number of European countries have taken steps to ban the Grey Wolves. France became the first to make such a move, accusing it of “extreme violence” and inciting racial hatred after its supporters daubed racist graffiti on a memorial to the Armenian Genocide.
The Grey Wolves are believed by many to have worked with Turkish intelligence in the 2013 killing of Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) co-founder Sakine Cansiz who was shot dead in a Paris community centre alongside Fidan Dogan and Leyla Soylemiz.
Germany, which has a sizeable Kurdish community is also considering such a ban. In November Dutch politicians called for the European Union to outlaw the group while Austria banned the display of the Grey Wolves salute in 2019.
Tosun was in hot water in 2019 after he gave a military salute after scoring a goal an international match for Turkey.
He was showing support for Erdogan’s illegal invasion of Rojava where the Turkish army allied with jihadists in an ethnic cleansing campaign against Kurds.
Nato’s second-largest army has been accused of a litany of war crimes including extra-judicial executions and the use of chemical weapons with hundreds of thousands of Kurds displaced.
Britsh-based Kurdish campaigners have called on football’s governing bodies to take firm action and demanded an immediate apology from Tosun’s club, Everton who have so far remained tight-lipped on the affair.
In a statement Peace in Kurdistan (PIK) said: “The football community has rightly been united in its support for the Black Lives Matter movement and is committed to stamping out the scourge of racism in sport and in society.”
But it warned that Tosun's actions fuel racism and are “a boost to the far-right giving them confidence while encouraging attacks on the Kurdish community.”
PIK explained: “Sport is highly politicised in Turkey with attacks on Kurdish football teams and their supporters a regular occurrence, carried out by the far-right Grey Wolves with the backing of a brutal and authoritarian Turkish state.”
For Tosun to claim that he is unaware of the Grey Wolves or its symbol – which PIK says is the equivalent of a nazi salute in Turkey – “simply won’t wash.”
“The FA and Everton FC must take a clear stand against racism and say that Kurdish Lives Matter,” PIK said.