D'Tigers against Lithuania
Lithuanian fans and media on Friday slammed British officials who accused supporters of the Baltic state's Olympic basketball team of racism, insisting their Nazi-like salutes were completely misunderstood.
The reaction came after a London court imposed a 2,500 pound (3,181 euro, $3,885) fine on team fan Petras Lescinskas, finding him guilty of making Nazi salutes and monkey chants, reports AFP.
Lescinskas was arrested during Tuesday's Lithuania-Nigeria basketball game, which Lithuania won 72-53, and was released the next day.
"The gesture and chanting of this fan and all others was totally misunderstood and misinterpreted by the undercover police officers who made the arrest," a group of fans said in a Friday media statement.
They said the extending of one or two arms after clapping is a common gesture at sporting events and "is in no way meant to represent the Nazi salute."
"The very thought of it doing so is totally abhorrent to the Lithuanian supporters," the fans said, adding they "strongly condemn outright all forms of racism or discrimination based on colour, race, sexual orientation and religion."
"These are our chants, raised up hands (...) We've been using the same chants for many years and no one ever told us anything before," Lescinskas told Lithuanian news website delfi.lt.
"They said we were doing some monkey sounds. But when it's when a referee makes mistakes, then we chant fu-fu-fu," a bearded Lescinskas dressed in a knitted yellow, green and red hat in Lithuania's national colours said, insisting he has never been a racist.
But Stratford magistrate's court district judge Sonia Sims said in her ruling his behaviour was an insult to Holocaust victims.