Tag Archives: football

The ball is round

The ball is round,

the game lasts 90 minutes,

everything else is pure theory.

Josef “Sepp” Herberger
German football player  (1897-1977)

Although this blog is mostly political, I decided for a change to write something about sports and tonight’s game between Greece and Germany for the Euro 2012. This game is not only about sports anyway, despite the repeated attempts to convince us for the opposite. The way the media work, the lust for a quick joke, a symbolic cartoon or a mere parallelism to the current situation in Greece and its relation to Germany make it extremely political. Imagine the headlines, the cliches…

GERMANY KICKS GREECE OUT OF THE EURO! (there you go, I said it too)

or

[Celtic striker Georgios] SAMARAS SCORES AGAINST GERMANY!

Georgios Samaras, you see, has the same name with our new Prime Minister, Antonis Samaras. There is also a new vice Minister of Justice, Kostas Karagounis, who has the same surname with veteran mid-fielder Giorgos Karagounis.

British comedy group Monty Python were much ahead of their time.

The David vs Goliath match has offered plenty of material for the Greek sport newspapers. Here’s some examples.

Goal News 22/06/2012
“For 90 minutes there is no rich and poor nations”

Sport Day 22/06/2012
“Bankrupt them”

Protathlitis 22/06/2012
“Samaras, tear her Memorandum up”

Derby News 22/06/2012
“Molon Labe” (i.e. “Come and take them” The Ancient Greek phrase μολὼν λαβέ is a classical expression of defiance reportedly spoken by King Leonidas I in response to the Persian army’s demand that the Spartans surrender their weapons at the Battle of Thermopylae).

Metrosport 22/06/2012
“Germany raus aus der Euro!” (i.e. Germany out of the Euro!)

I’ve also come across a series of cartoons that played on the game’s political dimension.

From The Independent

By Kipper Williams for The Guardian

From the Berliner Zeitung

A hard-to-believe report even mentioned that the Greek Tourism Organization have sent a letter to all major media that will be showing the match, asking to lower the volume during the German anthem in order to reduce the effect of possible wooing from Greek fans. Angela Merkel will be present in the stadium and it seems impossible that such an embarrassment can be avoided.

Only a few hours are left for the match. I am writing this post while trying to arrange with my friends where we’ll watch it. And the introduction of this favorite German movie, Lola Rennt (Run Lola Run, 1999) came to my mind.

I guess Greece needs a lot of running if the national team would have any chances of qualifying. But let’s never forget. The ball is round. The game lasts 90 minutes. That’s a fact. Everything else is pure theory.

Panem et circenses

In the case of politics, the Latin phrase panem et circenses (bread and circuses) is used to describe the creation of public approval, not through exemplary or excellent public service or public policy, but through diversion, distraction, and/or the mere satisfaction of the immediate, shallow requirements of a populace.

The economic crisis in Greece offers a great opportunity for politicians to demonstrate the ancient Roman wisdom but, alas, after having cut down the bread they now tamper with the circuses too.

Last Saturday, during the football match between Panathinaikos and Ergotelis at the Athens Olympic Stadium, a handful of Panathinaikos fans raised the banner in the photo on which they wrote “Politicians you are crooks, comfortably seated in the Parliament, the rebels’ wrath will drown you”. Forgive my hurried translation but it actually rhymes in Greek. Anyway, the referee decided to stop the game after the fourth referee noticed the banner, with the excuse of UEFA regulation that forbids banners with political messages. They called the fans to take it down but the fans denied.

The funny thing was that the banner annoyed the authorities so much that, after the match, policemen conducted checks in several fans’ cars and managed to find and arrest the owners of the sinful piece of cloth. Now, this would sound perfectly normal in a functioning European country but in the Greek bananaland the authorities haven’t showed an equal sensitivity when hooligans were breaking the stadium’s seats, were setting small fires in the stands or when, a couple of years ago, a fan threw a dangerous firework that amputated the finger of a security guard at the Olympic Stadium.