Football player declared a hero in Turkey: Who is Merih Demiral?

Turkiye National Football Team defeated Austria 2-1 in the last 16 rounds of the 2024 European Championship (EURO 2024) and made its name into the quarter-finals. Merih Demiral, who scored both goals for Türkiye, made a hand sign to show his joy. Why was that sign a problem?

By David Foster Published on 3 Temmuz 2024 : 23:37.
Football player declared a hero in Turkey: Who is Merih Demiral?

UEFA opened an investigation against Merih Demiral for "allegedly inappropriate behavior" in the match where the Turkish National Football Team beat Austria 2-1 in the last 16 rounds of the 2024 European Championship.

Demiral made the gray wolf sign after his second goal. The Gray Wolf sign is known as the sign of far-right extremists in Turkey. It is even claimed that it has racist qualities.

The national football player said, "I had the joy of a goal in mind, I did it, it has to do with Turkishness. I am very proud to be Turkish, that's why I felt it in my bones after the goal. I wanted to do something like that, and I am very happy that I did it."

Merih Demiral (born 5 March 1998) is a Turkish professional footballer who plays as a centre-back for Saudi Pro League club Al-Ahli and the Turkey national team.

Nancy Faeser, Minister of Internal Affairs of Germany, which hosts the tournament, shared on her X account, "The signs of Turkish far-rightists have no place in our stadiums. It is unacceptable to use the European Football Championship as a platform for racism. We expect UEFA to investigate the incident and consider sanctions." " he stated.


Merih Demiral, born on March 5, 1998, is a Turkish national football player who plays as a defender.

The player, who started playing football at Karamürsel İdman Yurdu, the team of his hometown Kocaeli, was later transferred to Fenerbahçe. He received a contract offer from Fenerbahçe for minimum wage. He did not accept this offer and left the team.

In 2016, he signed a contract with Alcanenense, one of the Portuguese 3rd League teams, together with his friend from Fenerbahçe, Bahadır Çiloğlu, and became a professional. He made his debut on 11 September 2016 against SC Lusitânia. In addition to 12 league matches in the first half of the league, he also had the chance to play in the cup twice.

During the break, he was transferred to Sporting B, the reserve team of Sporting Lisbon in the second league. The football player, who attracted the attention of A team coach Jorge Jesus with his performance in the second team, was included in the Sporting Lisbon squad for the cup match against Oleiros on 12 October 2017.

On 15 August 2018, he was transferred to Alanyaspor, one of the Super League teams, on loan. He was transferred to Alanyaspor on 29 January 2019 for a transfer fee of 3.5 million euros. Alanyaspor loaned the football player to Serie A club Sassuolo with a compulsory purchase option on January 30, 2019. On July 5, 2019, he was transferred to Juventus, one of the Serie A teams, for a transfer fee of 18 million euros.

Merih, who did not have the chance to play in the first three league matches in Serie A, made his first league match with the Juventus jersey against Hellas Verona in the 4th week match. Merih, who did not have the chance to play again for 11 weeks, had the chance to play again in the match against Udinese in the 16th week and completed the match with an assist. Merih, who played in 4 consecutive league matches, scored a goal for his team at the beginning of the Roma match, but suffered an injury and left the game in the 18th minute. His cruciate ligaments were ruptured and it was announced that he was out of the 2019-20 season.

He was loaned to Atalanta with an option to buy on 6 August 2021.

In 2023, he was transferred to the Saudi Professional League team Al-Ehli.

At the international level, Demiral has worn the national jersey more than 40 times since his debut in 2018 and represented Turkey at the 2020 European Football Championship and the 2024 European Football Championship.