Prime Minister Antonis Samaras has congratulated Greece’s national soccer team after its second round exit at the World Cup in Brazil and his government has pledged to build a new training center for the team.
“All Greeks are proud of our national team,” Samaras said in a brief message after Greece lost to Costa Rica on penalties. “Congratulations to all the boys.”
Samaras's coalition partner, PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos, also issued a statement praising the team.
Greece clawed back a 1-0 deficit in the dying stages of normal time against Costa Rica, which had been reduced to 10 man. The Greeks were unable to take advantage of having one player more in extra time, with Costa Rica goalkeeper Keylor Navas making several vital saves. Nevertheless, by making it into the second round of the tournament, the players made history by becoming the first Greek team to achieve this feat at a World Cup.
Before the match, Greece’s players wrote to Samaras to inform him that they were willing to forego the bonuses they had earned for advancing in the tournament so the money could be spent on a new training center for the national team.
"We do not want extra bonuses, or money, we only play for Greece and its people,” the squad said in their message to the Greek premier. “All we want is for you to support our effort to find land and to create a sports center that will house our national team.”
Currently, the Greek soccer team trains at a center in Aghios Kosmas, southern Athens. It is one of the former Athens 2004 Olympics sites and is used by other sports teams as well.
Deputy Culture Minister Yiannis Andrianos, who is responsible for sports issues, said that the government would try to fulfil the players’ wish.
“The prime minister’s positive response to this request is the guarantee that the state will make every effort possible so that the national teams have this vital infrastructure so that this year’s success can be built on and we can soon celebrate new successes,” he said.
Andrianos described Greece’s performance at Brazil 2014 as “very respectable and wholly successful.”