A Turkish lawyer has lodged a complaint with UEFA, European football’s governing body, after Italian side Inter Milan played his team wearing strips he claimed were offensive to Muslim sensibilities.
Inter turned out in this season’s special edition strip, designed to celebrate the club’s centenary. It’s white and bears a large red cross on the chest – symbol of the Italian city of Milan. For European law specialist Baris Kaska, however, the cross was frighteningly reminiscent of the crusader crosses worn by the Knights Templar, who rampaged across Europe and the Near East during the Crusades.
Here’s the Times:
“Mr Kaska said he was not only seeking damages but was also appealing to Uefa to annul the match, which Inter won 3-0. “That cross only brings one thing to mind – the symbol of the Templar Knights,” he said. “It made me think immediately of the bloody days of the past. While I was watching the game I felt profound grief in my soul.” Mr Kaska told the Spanish newspaper La Vanguardia that the cross symbolised “Western racist superiority over Islam”.
“He said that Inter had “manifested in the most explicit manner the superiority of one religion over another”. He said the court had contacted both Uefa and Fifa to convey his demand that Inter should be “heavily fined for displaying an offensive symbol”. “How could Uefa allow this?“demanded the Turkish paper Radikal.”
Inter officials admit that they chose not to wear the red cross strip when they played the Turkish leg of the game in Fenerbahce’s stadium in Istanbul earlier. Italy’s media wonder whether Mr Kaska is more concerned with the fact his side lost 3-0 in Milan than the fact that some out-to-be-offended Muslims might be traumatised by memories of the Crusades, which ended in 1291.
Mr Kaska is reportedly an expert in European Law. Very useful for the ongoing negotiations towards Turkey’s EU accession. But if he or others like him, including his supporters in the Turkish media, find the display of the cross offensive to Islam, they are going to be very disappointed Europeans: The cross is the central image of European culture, and can be found everywhere from the British flag to the symbol of the International Red Cross.
Wonder what Mr Kaska would make of Irish side Crusaders FC, who do not wear Templar crosses on their strips but who do answer to the nickname “the Hatchetmen?”
Thanks to Grail Seekers
(Don’t forget to sign Brian Kannard’s petition about the Templars – I did it!)