Greek basketball player Kostas Sloukas, who plays for Turkish team Fenerbahce, has been slammed for not holding a banner commemorating Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.
Sloukas’ team Fenerbahce walked into the stadium holding a banner marking the 81st anniversary of Ataturk’s death just before their Turkish Basketball League match against Besiktas began, however, Sloukas stood back.
— Semih Erden (@semiherden_9) November 10, 2019
The Greek guard was heavily criticised by Turkish media and on social media, including a Twitter post that was published by former Boston Celtics player Semih Erden, which showed footage of Sloukas not touching the banner but standing behind it.
The 29-year-old Greek athlete was asked to respond and Fenerbahce published the following statement made by Sloukas:
“I have great respect both for this country and this team. I have been here for five years. I respect Turkey and its history. None of my actions were made consciously. I was fully focused on the game, and I didn’t realise what was going on. Everyone knows who I am and how I fight for this club. After all, I’ve been here with this team for five years. I fight for this team and this country. I was not being disrespectful. I understand that this country holds an important history. I have always respected this. Yes, I am a Greek citizen, but I’ve been playing here for five years and Fenerbahce which represents Turkey.”