‘Please stop hitting me’

‘Please stop hitting me’

‘The weekend sports matches had a different tone than usual. The cold-blooded murder of 19-year-old Alkis Kambanos by a gang of hooligans in Thessaloniki forced athletes and normal fans (those who exist in the dark shadow cast by the dominant, empty-headed fanatics) to be critical of the product they create together, and to write on their shirts and banners Alkis’ last plea: “Please stop hitting me.”

Even people who have had a central role for years in the eruption of soccer violence appear shocked, perhaps because society is watching. Even club newspapers that constantly justify their own knife-wielding hooligans seemed to respond, somewhat, to their heavy responsibility. The state also appeared to be waking up, to be coming out of its perennial sleep, which allowed the violence to escalate with soccer as an excuse. This violence was a mine suitable for other types of games – those in the field of vested interests.

However, because Alkis is not the first victim of hooliganism in this country and because it is not the first time that those involved in sports are stating how devastated they are and ready to contribute to a solution, it would be wise not to grant those statements more significance than they deserve.

Because, as always, the comforting and moving words coexist with the awful ones. Next to the athletes who formed the letter A with their fingers – the first letter of the name of the murdered young man – during a match between Aris and AEK soccer clubs last week, someone else, an international player, mocked the supporters of Aris, calling them “worms.” Alkis Kambanos had not even been buried yet.

On Sunday, in a game between two amateur teams in Halkidiki, there was “a minute of silence,” for Alkis, but its effect was insignificant: It was followed by the beating of a coach by fans. All this sporting action fully justified the self-admiration with which we welcomed the opening ceremony of the Beijing Winter Olympics two days later, with the established tribute to the Olympic spirit which was “born here.”

It will take a lot for the Olympic spirit not to die here too. And first of all, we should not expect that those who opened this wound will definitely heal it. And let us not put our consciences to sleep with the racist lullaby that “the killers were Albanians, Kosovo Liberation Army supporters.” Apparently, they were not.

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