The death of Christian Atsu has rocked the football world. The soccer professional from Ghana was found dead under the rubble after the devastating earthquake in south-east Turkey. He was only 32 years old and died in the city of Hatay. During his career he had played for FC Porto, Newcastle United and Chelsea FC, among others, and made 60 appearances for the Ghana national team.

Many clubs, including the Turkish Football Association, have expressed their sadness and dismay at his death. Mohammed Kudus, Atsu’s compatriot, paid tribute to the deceased footballer with a touching gesture during his club’s Ajax Amsterdam game against Sparta Rotterdam. After taking a free kick, Kudus pulled his jersey over his head and displayed “R.I.P. Atsu” on his undershirt.

A sign that touched many fans – and apparently also did not leave the referee Pol von Boekel indifferent. Because, according to the rules, taking off the jersey when celebrating a goal is actually punished with a yellow card. But the referee apparently recognized the special situation and waived the warning.

“This is about something bigger than the rules of football, it’s a matter of life and death,” Kudus told ESPN after the game. “The referee said it wasn’t allowed, but he understood the situation. I’m grateful to him for that and I respect him a lot.” Former DFB top referee Manuel Graefe also praised the referee’s instincts on Twitter: “That’s what you call personality, which a top referee needs to know/feel when you’re doing something in the spirit of sport – here even human Compassion – ‘regulate’ or omit here,” he commented on the scene.

Ajax striker Kudus explained the background to his jubilation as follows: “I decided to do it because he (Christian Atsu, editor’s note) means a lot to me. I learned a lot from watching him, he also gives me regular tips given.” If he hadn’t scored a goal in the game, he would have shown the lettering after the final whistle, said the 22-year-old.

Sources: ESPN / Manuel Graefe on Twitter

Watch the video: Tens of thousands die in the devastating earthquakes in Turkey and Syria, entire streets are in ruins. The extent of the devastation in the region is shown by a comparison with video recordings from before the violent tremors.