OPINION

Greece’s national team

Suddenly Greece has been swept away on a wave of self-confidence and high spirits, thanks to the national soccer team and its brilliant German coach, Otto Rehhagel, who shot the country out of the wings and into the international limelight. In 1987, the national basketball team, coached by Cosmas Politis and with a brilliant player, Nikos Galis, sent the entire nation into a state of delirium when it won the European Cup. The national team, as well as individual triumphs in track and field events, have provided Greece with an opportunity to shine. Instead of restricting themselves to self-evident congratulations, the political leaders should realize that these amazing achievements are due to the highest level of professionalism, hard work and faith in an outcome. This is not the result of bureaucratic practices that inevitably lead to failure. Those who constitute the country’s political system, clumsy imitators of models they have only partly understood and certainly not mastered, are in no position to inspire confidence. The visions they promote are spurious and naively presented. Basically, the political system operates within a vacuum, which is why it cannot inspire confidence. It is simply a pole of attraction for the self-interested or those lacking in ambition. Those who dare to raise issues outside the realm of simple bureaucratic practices are isolated, treated as undesirables and sidelined. The national team is a unique instance of the status quo being transcended. «The German is crazy,» is one of the main slogans the crowd has been chanting about coach Rehhagel, who in following a very non-conformist approach – according to the experts – has achieved the unbelievable. The national team has earned the praise and admiration of political leaders who will soon be back at their mundane bureaucratic duties, as they cannot tolerate either elation nor vision, nor do they dare to release forces beyond those they are in a position to control. An American who adopted the behavior of the English [T.S. Eliot] wrote that humankind cannot bear very much reality. That applies to political leaders who restrict their conceptual facilities and prefer statistics to contact with the social and ideological core. For decades now, politicians have adopted a «business» approach to public affairs. However, creative businessmen are in continual dialogue with reality. PASOK became a «management» party under the leadership of Costas Simitis, suffered a major identity crisis and an electoral defeat. It would be a mistake for the New Democracy party to adopt the same tactic, which might satisfy some Cabinet members and, above all, the establishment set up during Simitis’s eight years in power. Rehhagel built the national soccer team from zero, lifted the people’s morale and fired their patriotism. The country’s leaders have a duty to release creative forces instead of perpetuating a bureaucratic mentality that leads to certain defeat.