Violence scores highest

There are only 325 days to go before the sun rises on the sacred Olympic spirit that – according to those who cultivate great expectations – will restore lost purity to the Games. Before the opening ceremony on August 13, 2004, however, there is another beacon – New Year’s Day – which will not only usher in another year, but will mark a turning point toward the nobility of sport, and calm on the soccer fields. Everything we are witnessing now, both inside and outside the stadiums, is the death throes of a wild animal that has only 100 days left to live. During that time, fans will continue to throw stones at the supporters of rival teams and at referees and set fire to cars whose owners had the misfortune to park them 20 kilometers away from the stadium. Also during this time, the owners of the teams will continue to act as instigators and political leaders will continue to look hopelessly around for their ministerial mantle of responsibility. But as soon as New Year’s Day dawns, and we enter the Year of the Olympiad, everyone will be on their best behavior, dressed in their finest, their purest ideals to the fore. They will be ready to welcome the Olympic Games back home again, and to throw off the stench of doping and money. Incidents such as that which took place once again on Sunday in Athens because of yet another soccer derby are not restricted to Greece, but also occur in other countries, from Italy to Uruguay. But in no other country has any official or «ordinary fan» claimed that he and his country are the sole heirs, guardians and managers of the sporting ideal and the last of the innocent. Only we Greeks blow our own trumpets about our broken heads, burnt cars, wrecked stadiums and broken laws, hypnotizing ourselves with this siren song.

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