OPINION

The silence of irresponsibility

The hooligans who raided the Theatro Technis Karolos Koun in Plaka were neither ?infuriated? nor ?hot-tempered,? as most reports said. This was a cold-blooded, well-planned operation, not some spasmodic or random act. The memory of the attackers was not impeded by the history of the theater they wrecked. After all, there was nothing there to infuriate them, nothing to make them go berserk. Moreover, nothing was at stake; there was no game under way, no threat to the honor and glory of their soccer club — nor their own for that matter. The title of the play staged at the Plaka theater mentioned the name of Olympiakos?s perennial rival, PAOK (the title was ?Traveling with PAOK?), and this was enough to demonstrate that Pavlov?s theory on conditioned reflexes is not exclusively applicable to animals.

This is the worst — and most dangerous — feature of this barbarous attack: It was orchestrated behind the scenes by some skilled general and then was carried out by his willing executioners. Hooligans have after all operated along military lines for years. They organize themselves into battalions, and are always equipped with the necessary arsenal and an efficient propaganda apparatus (newspapers, websites), fighting set piece battles on agreed battlefields, often with mercenaries in their ranks.

There is no room for the usual excuses, like those which are so readily invoked by Greece?s soccer club presidents to legitimate the violence of their heroic armies — a violence that they themselves often fuel with vitriolic statements and thoughtless actions. Examples include saying that the referee was to blame for ?slaughtering the team,? that a rival player had ?provoked? trouble with an offensive gesture or that a police officer had triggered violence by hurling tear gas indiscriminately. These and others are just excuses rehashed by those who seek to justify the wrongs and guarantee their perpetual repetition.

On Sunday, Olympiakos fans observed a one-minute silence for the 21 supporters who were killed in a stampede after a match between AEK and Olympiakos at the old Karaiskaki Stadium 30 years ago. Perhaps it should have been followed by a second minute of silence in memory of Karolos Koun, declared by the chairman of the Piraeus club, to signify that the club is willing to assume some responsibility for the violence and an opportunity for collective reflection.

Unfortunately, catharsis is the stuff of theater. Hooligans made for the theater in search of something completely different. As for Olympiakos, it chose a different kind of silence: the silence of irresponsibility.