Euro 2024: Diplomatic row overshadowing Turkey quarterfinal against Netherlands

BERLIN (AP) — Buildup to the European Championship quarterfinal between Turkey and the Netherlands has been overshadowed by a diplomatic row. Turkey defender Merih Demiral’s hand gesture after scoring against Austria has sparked a dispute between his country and host nation Germany. Demiral was banned on Friday for making a gesture used by Turkish nationalists and associated with an ultra-nationalist group. It led to condemnation from German authorities and strong pushback from Turkish counterparts, who accused the hosts of xenophobia. The row prompted Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to change his plans and attend the match on Saturday in Berlin’s Olympiastadion. Kickoff is at 9 p.m. local time (1900 GMT). Here’s what to know about the match:

Match facts

— UEFA on Friday suspended Demiral for two matches because of his celebration after scoring in the 2-1 win over Austria. The governing body said he brought the sport into disrepute by making the gesture.

— Turkish “ultras” are calling on other supporters to make the same controversial gesture during the national anthem before the game. The ultras can be expected to do it during the game, too.

— Demiral and Turkish authorities have defended the sign as an expression of Turkish pride. Critics say it glorifies a right-wing organization known for racism and violence against minorities.

— Neither team has made it to the quarterfinals since Euro 2008, when the Netherlands lost to Russia in extra time and Turkey defeated Croatia on penalties to reach its only semifinal.

— The Dutch reached the last eight with a 3-0 win over Romania. The team has been supported by thousands of orange-clad fans, but struggled in the group stage and squeezed into the last 16 only by finishing third in a group behind Austria and France.

— Turkey finished runner-up in a group behind Portugal, then defeated Austria thanks to Demiral’s two goals, though the team needed a brilliant save in stoppage time from Mert Gunok to preserve the win.

— The winner will play England or Switzerland in a semifinal in Dortmund on Wednesday.

Team news

— While captain Hakan Calhanoglu returns after a suspension, Turkey will be without Demirial because of his ban, and midfielders Orkun Kokcu and Ismail Yuksek are both suspended. Eight more Turkish players — including Arda Guler and Kenan Yildiz — are in danger of missing the next match if booked.

— No Dutch players are suspended, while Denzel Dumfries, Joey Veerman, Jerdy Schouten and Donyell Malen will hope to avoid any yellow cards that rule them out of a potential semifinal.

— Netherlands coach Ronald Koeman said on Friday he will need to make a late fitness call on defender Nathan Aké, who injured a knee in the win over Romania. “He did take part in the training. So we are waiting (to see) how he will feel tomorrow, whether he can play,” Koeman said.

By the numbers

— The Netherlands is bidding to reach the semifinals for the sixth time, and first since 2004.

— Turkey made it to the semifinals in 2008, losing to Germany 3-2.

— There have been 14 games between the countries with the Netherlands winning six, Turkey winning four, and four draws.

— They last played in qualifying for the 2022 World Cup, when Turkey won 4-2 in Istanbul before the Netherlands won 6-1 in Amsterdam.

What they’re saying

“The Netherlands have also played big matches and had difficult moments. Most importantly, we know where they are weak and where they are strong. We have knowledge about how we can hurt them and we will start trying to implement that.” — Turkey assistant coach Daniele Russo.

“It’s going to be even bigger in Berlin. We Turks, we’re everywhere. You can see in the videos, how people are celebrating in the streets and how they’re happy. We want to continue making them happy.” — Turkey captain Hakan Calhanoglu.


AP Euro 2024:

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