Turkey bans Kurdish footballer for life over ‘ideological propaganda’

Turkey has banned Kurdish football player Deniz Naki from playing football in the country for life after the player called for a demonstration against the country’s military offensive in Syria’s Afrin region.

Turkish authorities have cracked down on public criticism over its ground offensive against the Syrian Kurdish militia. More than 300 people have been detained for social media posts, and a prosecutor has issued detention warrants for the board of Turkey’s largest doctors union after they released a pro-peace statement.

The Turkish Football Federation (TFF) fined Naki 273,000 Turkish lira ($72,000) and banned him from games for three years and six months for “separatist an ideological propaganda,” the federation said in a statement quoted by Reuters.

Any suspension longer than three years constitutes a life ban, therefore Naki will not be able to play soccer in the country again, Reuters said.


Naki was given an 18-month suspended prison sentence in April for “terrorist propaganda,” and he was shot at in his car in Germany in January by unknown attackers.

German press reported that the player, born and raised in Germany wants to remain in Germany for security concerns.

Naki started his football career in Germany, and played for German teams including Hamburg's FC St. Pauli between 2009-2012.


Naki was given a 12-game ban by the federation in Feb. 2016 when he devoted his team’s success to those who lost their lives or were injured under oppression.

At the time, Naki was still playing in Amedspor, the football club of Diyarbakır, the largest Kurdish-majority in Turkey’s east.