Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Post-Olympic "fiesta"

It has been a while since I last posted anything and this was not because I lacked ideas. As I sit down and read my scribbles on news I have read or observations I have made in the past days, I find a lot indeed; I will devote however this post to something that happened in my native country, Greece, a few days ago and with which I still cannot make peace: the killing of young man as a consequence of mob fighting between fans of the two major sports' clubs in a suburb of Athens.

For anyone who is Greek the story is no news by now. For the rest let me simply say that in the context of a volleyball game fans of the two major teams, Panathinaikos and Olympiakos, "met" in order "to put an end" to some hitherto unresolved claims and contentions. And they did put an end indeed - in the life of a 25 year old whose death verdict is too tragic for me to repeat here. Of course my one sentence summary is only the backbone of what appeared to involve a decent dose of planning and quite a few individuals - arrests continue to date. For information purposes, I do link articles at the end of the post - but my point is not to provide with a factual reportage. Instead it is my outright condemnation and frustration what I want to share here.

It is my belief that those most involved in sports issues in Greece were long aware of such and similar issues occurring and had opted, in what is a very "greek way" of dealing with things, not to do anything or do very little. Tragic as it is and horrendous as it may sound it comes as no surprise to anyone really, even to ordinary people like myself, that such incident did occur; not a single football (=soccer) match between the two major teams has been spared from violence or threats thereof... what has only varied is the degree. And while I do not want to give the picture that people persistently die, hooliganism, and to be precise, violent behavior between members of opposing teams, is yet another modern disease sadly not confined within the borders of the small south European state.

To be sure, responsibility lies among many people. It includes, of course, those in the industry, those in "the politics of sports", and those that have been assigned jobs directly relating to sports, in the government or the various agencies and secretariats. It of course involves the "fan clubs". But it goes well beyond that. It touches upon the media and the culture of conflict (not to say violence) they propagate; has any reporter/journalist ever really wondered about the consequences of his/her word choice? When the most popular description of an Olympiakos/Panathinaikos game is that of an encounter between "THE perennial rivals" ("το ντέρμπι των αιωνίων") there is something wrong and someone to blame too. One can go as far as to argue that all ordinary citizens who refuse to go to the games are responsible too: their contempt for the state of Greek sports contributes nothing really towards a solution.

But I wish not to go the full distance. Nor do I wish to undertake a study of who is to blame and how much. Policing is not what I have chosen to do for life. And inasmuch as I cannot let go of the news because I am concerned with what happens in Athens too, I do not think that I would ever do a full length post of this incident and the folly that has been cursing people - because after all the full responsibility goes to those narrow minded individuals thinking in this paranoid way. Not because it is not an important matter: certainly it is. It just so happens that a thousand other things are happening too at the same time which merit my/our attention: in my scribbles I read about how the value of life of Indian children has "depreciated" and how the peaceful citizens of the Solomon islands woke up to a tsunami that wrecked their lives. But there has been one thought in my mind since March 29 and this is what has spurred all this: "if we condemn fighting and killing even when this occurs for a loaf of bread, how much less tolerant can we be of such a killing that occurred not in the name of survival or of a God but in the name of a product of a man-made, drug-influenced and money-making business?"


στα ελληνικά:Οργανωμένο σχέδιο πίσω από το «ραντεβού του θανάτου»

in English: All Greek team sports suspended after death in volleyball riots

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