OPINION

League cleanup

The unexpectedly strong showing by the Greek national squad at the European Championship in Portugal filled the Greek people with enthusiasm and faith, breaking the crust of club allegiances which has been formed in local competitions ruled by rackets and corrupt officials. A vast section of the populace has backed the effort of the national team with enthusiasm. Many people traveled all the way to Portugal while many more watched the matches on television with bated breath. Now, we stand at a crossroads. We can either continue with the cheap exploitation of the national team’s triumphs before returning to the misery of the domestic championship, or we can seize the opportunity offered by popular passion and enthusiasm and take measures for a radical overhaul of the Greek soccer clubs and the national league. The central goal of such government policy would be to establish a fair and transparent domestic championship and clean up the sleaze-ridden system in which the teams are currently mired. The responsibility lies mostly with the government, which only has to enforce the law in a strict and fair manner. The government must not hesitate to punish wrongdoers in accordance with legislative provisions. Most importantly, the administration can be sure that in shaking Greek soccer clubs and the league free of corruption, it will enjoy unlimited support from all fans – regardless of their club preferences. The fans’ behavior during the games of Greece’s national team in Euro 2004 highlighted that what people want is to be able to visit the soccer stadium on Sundays to enjoy good, competitive play without game fixing, bullying and the other ills that have dogged the domestic league for decades. Hooliganism and organized violence are also part of the same problem. It is the club owners and their acolytes who do most to inspire, stir or even orchestrate soccer violence. They have the legal and civic responsibility for the violence which erupts in almost every soccer match.