National hooliganism

They assumed they could do what Greek football fans had done with their flags, their songs and their rather sexist slogans on the streets of Lisbon, Paris and Prague, when the Greek national soccer team beat the Portuguese, the French and the Czechs: celebrate, don the national colors, shout and forget themselves for one intoxicated night. They assumed that in a country which had just held the Olympic Games and is preparing for the Paralympics, one that prides itself on its sporting culture and hospitality, they weren’t at risk of being savagely beaten by nationalist hooligans, of being knifed and even losing their lives. But the Albanians should have kept it in mind that «the Greeks are born winners,» so they aren’t losers and fatalists like the Portuguese and Czechs. «Greeks are proud,» declared Thessaloniki prefect Panayiotis Psomiadis, a theoretician of bigotry who knows what those who brought him to office want to hear. «Greek dignity was wounded,» diagnosed the prefect, followed by TV commentators who manufacture mass consciousness (all those who hastened to accuse Albanian PM Fatos Nano of being the sole instigator, as if our politicians aren’t masters of speculation and haven’t given «national» content to transient sporting successes). Indeed. And two months ago, when celebrating Greeks shouted racist slogans at Albanians («You’ll never be a Greek, you Albanian…») was their dignity «wounded» then? By whom? Were we playing the Albanians then, or the Portuguese? Attacks on Albanians occurred in several parts of Greece and we do not have that many card-carrying ultra-rightists. Referring to the jeering of foreign athletes during the Olympics, President Costis Stephanopoulos said such activity debases Greece. For Saturday’s attacks and the murder on Zakynthos, «debasement» seems a mild word to use.

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