BERLIN: German internationals Ilkay Gundogan and Emre Can, who both have Turkish roots, on Sunday deleted Instagram ‘likes’ of a photograph showing Turkey footballers performing a military salute, a gesture seen as supporting their country’s military offensive in Syria.
Gundogan, who was lambasted on the eve of the 2018 World Cup for posing for pictures with teammate Mesut Ozil alongside Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said he deleted his post when he realised it was open to misinterpretation.
“I deleted my ‘Like’ when I saw that it could be interpreted politically,” Manchester City player Gundogan told AFP subsidiary, SID.
“Believe me, after what happened last year, the last thing I wanted was to give a political signal.”
The photograph in question showed Turkey players making a military salute in their 1-0 win over Albania in Istanbul on Friday in response to their country’s widely-condemned offensive against Kurds in Syria.
Cenk Tosun, the goalscorer, posted the picture on Twitter and wrote: “For our nation and especially for those who risk their lives for our country”.
On Sunday, Can also deleted his post, claiming he had no desire to be seen supporting armed conflict.
“I liked the post of Tosun, who I have known for a long time, while browsing his account without paying attention to its content. I am absolutely a pacifist and against all forms of war.”
UEFA have already said that they will “examine” the incident involving the salute.
The German Football Association (DFB) said that officials would discuss the matter with Gundogan and Can after Sunday’s 3-0 win at Estonia in a Euro 2020 qualifier in which Gundogan scored twice.
Juventus midfielder Can lasted less than 14 minutes in Tallinn, sent off for a professional foul as the last man, leaving Germany with 10 men after the first straight red card of his career.
Despite an impressive display, Gundogan declined TV interviews after the final whistle.