OPINION

Truce for foreigners only

We are on the final stretch of the Athens Olympics, people at work sites stay up until midnight to meet the deadlines, the public is overwhelmed with Olympic-related commercials that aim to counter their apathy or misgivings over the coming hoopla. And yet, in the country that is busy organizing big torch races, «Peace days» and Olympic Truces, professional sport has become a synonym for violence, having lost all connection to the «joy of participation,» «the healthy spirit» and every other noble concept. In an attempt to avoid the worst, and in a strong display of respect for free movement, the deputy minister for sports recently issued a ban on visiting organized fan clubs. The next step would be to ban host fans from watching the matches. Games would then take place without spectators so as to make sure that no violence erupts. Such measures would indeed alleviate the major concern, which is not to eradicate the causes of violence or to impose laws that will restore order, but to protect our image abroad. The State wants to avoid any soccer violence that could receive bad publicity in the foreign news agencies in the runup to the August Games. Foreign agencies would be keen to mock a country which brags that it will breathe new life into the Games and teach fair play to the rest of the world when it falls short of organizing a bloodless championship – even in under-17 badminton. Would it not be wise to have the torch pass through the country’s football grounds in the hope of enlightening us? It seems that rather than asking the British, the French and the Portuguese to sign the Olympic Truce, we should call upon Greek football club owners and fan club leaders to sign it instead. For how can we hope to impose global peace when we are plagued by civil strife?