Erdogan: UEFA punishment for Demiral is political

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said UEFA's two-match ban on Turkish defender Merih Demiral for an ultra-nationalist salute was "political" and overshadowed the championship.

The Turkish leader canceled his visit to Azerbaijan and went to Berlin to watch the quarter-final at the Olympiastadion in the German capital, which was attended by tens of thousands of Turks.

The Netherlands beat Turkey 2-1 to reach the semi-finals of Euro 2024.

Demiral, who scored twice against Austria, was ruled out on Saturday after UEFA banned him for two matches after making a controversial salute linked to the Turkish far-right group the Gray Wolves during the celebrations.

"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 the plane from Berlin, AA reported.

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

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

"Despite all the negativity... we watched an exciting match," Erdogan said.

Turkey coach Vincenzo Montella said Demiral's punishment was "unfair". | BGNES