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Former MLS striker Patryk Klimala denies celebrating a goal with the Nazi salute. The 24-year-old Poland-native is currently playing soccer overseas in Israel and finds himself in hot water.
Klimala, who previously spent two years with Celtic and two years with the New York Red Bulls, joined the Israeli club Hapoel Be’er Sheva on a free transfer back in February. Saturday’s game against Hapoel Jerusalem marked his 11th appearance of the season and his third-straight game with a goal.
After his club went up 1-0 in the 19th minute, Klimala found the net in the 54th to go up 2-0.
Following his goal, the Poland national went over to the backline and acknowledged his fanbase. However, Klimala’s gesture sparked some controversy, as it looked similar to the Nazi salute.
Considering that he plays for an Israeli side, it would be hard to imagine that Klimala would do such a hate-forward signal with intent. But the motion’s likeness to the Nazi salute is hard to deny.
Klimala, though, says that it was not on purpose. He has since apologized for how the gesture was received and established that it was not what it looked like.
In addition, Klimala spoke to his Polish roots and respect for Jewish heratige.
My gesture during the goal celebration was completely misunderstood by some spectators. As a Pole, who respects the history of both countries, I would never even think about performing the Nazi salute. While living in Poland, I visited the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp and I fully realise the importance of history and Jewish heritage. After my goal, I just wanted to greet our fans. There was surely nothing else beyond it. I’m sorry if anyone took it the wrong way. Lastly, this is a great opportunity to thank our great fans again for all of the support and I’m happy we got another important win. Have a nice week❤️— Patryk Klimala, via Instagram
Klimala has become a big factor in Hapoel Be’er Sheva’s success this season. When he presumably scores again soon, he will be more careful with his fan acknowledgment.