Greek basketball player Kostas Sloukas, who plays for the Turkish basketball team Fenerbahce was subjected to intense criticism across Turkish social media after he failed to hold a banner commemorating the death of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk on Saturday.
Videos uploaded on Facebook and YouTube show that the 27-year-old Greek athlete did not participate in the festivity commemorating the 81st anniversary of Ataturk’s death. When his colleagues unfurled a banner reading “We remember with nostalgia and respect,” Sloukas was missing from the group.
Atamızı vefatının 81. yılında özlem ve saygı ile anıyoruz. #10Kasım pic.twitter.com/Ziqe7pnhyq
— Fenerbahçe Beko (@FBBasketbol) November 10, 2019
The Greek player received nasty backlash and even racial jeers online from fans of the Turkish team.
Sloukas was forced to apologize through a statement on the team’s official website.
“I fully respect the country and the team. I’ve been here five years. I respect the country and its history. In this case, nothing happened consciously. I was totally focused on the game and I didn’t realize what was happening at the time,” he explained.
“[Turkey] has important history, which I respect… Yes, I am a Greek citizen, but I have been here for the last five years playing for Fenerbahce, which represents Turkey,” Sloukas added.