Turkey’s Olympic medalist wrestler Rıza Kayaalp was given an immediate suspension of six months by the International Federation of Associated Wrestling Styles (FILA) judge for his racist remarks against Armenians and Greeks three weeks ago, according to Hurriyet Daily News.
Kayaalp had targeted Greeks and Armenians in his tweets posted when the Gezi Park unrest rocked the country for nearly two months.
European and World champion Kayaalp, who also won a bronze medal at the Olympic Games in London last year, advocated that “Armenians” were at the root of the Gezi protests, in a series of tweets he later deleted.
His tweets included “You just leave the streets to Armenians, you f**ing looters” and “F**k you traitors”.
FILA President Nenad Lalovic has told Greek daily Ekathimerini in an interview that Kayaalp was suspended for his racist tweets from the international matchs.
“He was given an immediate suspension of six months by the FILA judge, and he has the right to appeal. I do not know the exact details as I do not interfere in such activities. We have a prosecutor and a judge. The prosecutor informs the judge about what happens in such incidents. I know this person, he is a young boy and a very good wrestler. I am shocked that he has done this, but it may have been an emotional moment for him, I am not sure that he really thinks that way. But I am not here to judge, just to secure all the democratic procedures, the eventual punishment and so on. The investigation goes on, there will probably be a hearing, an appeal may be,” Lalovic reportedly said.
Kayaalp’s tweets wereactually on the anti-government protests which spread throughout the country in June after a police crackdown on a group performing a sit-in against a controversial city center renovation project.
He had deleted his tweets about the protesters, Armenians and Greeks after a reaction from the social media.
Kayaalp had been picked to bear the Turkish flag during the opening ceremony of last month’s Mediterranean Games in Mersin and has also featured in a public service announcement prepared by the Minister of Youth and Sports. Kayaalp is one of the most famous sportsmen in Turkey. He had been picked to bear the Turkish flag during the opening ceremony of last month's Mediterranean Games in Mersin.