OPINION

Soccer renaissance

This year, Greek soccer fans are enjoying the most exciting championship in decades. The teams at the top of the league are constantly changing, the frequency of violent episodes has dropped, while the number of spectators has soared. The decline in the performance of several teams and the improvement in others’ have rendered the championship more competitive. In addition, the trials and economic tribulations of business groups which own the main soccer clubs are reflected in the fitness and spirit of their players, hence the narrowing performance gap between larger and smaller clubs. However, the main reason behind the rebirth of Greek soccer this year lies elsewhere. For about two years now, the government has dared to clash with the entrenched interests lurking on the soccer field. Despite numerous obstacles it has, to some extent, managed to purge refereeing of corruption, cracking down on the ruthless rings which have influenced, if not controlled, the sport and which distorted and largely determined the teams’ final ranking. In the present championship, referees’ errors have mostly been unintentional and therefore advantage and disadvantage all teams equally. Above all, government determination during this conflict challenged the power of several agents, releasing forces who now seem convinced that trying to achieve higher goals is not in vain, and that they are not merely taking part in a play with set roles and ending. The general feeling is that competition is much freer and more open, even if there are still huge inequalities in terms of resources and performance. These results should not just be restricted to the field of soccer. They should provide an lesson for other government policies. Established interests are to be found in all sections of society. They grow strong and paralyze everything in order to consolidate their predominance. They suppress the vital forces of society, which will only prosper and grow if the government abandons the favoritism which nourished established interests. These forces demand government intervention so that reactionary forces are prevented from paralyzing 21st-century Greece. In order to do this, as was proved by the soccer rejuvenation, the government has to tackle the issues. Society has sent a clear signal. The government should finally dare engage in the confrontations mandated by the new era. Slav-Macedonian hardline Interior Minister Ljube Boskovski told the crowd that the «police would do everything to bring perpetrators of this cowardly act to justice.» Police said yesterday several other booby traps had been discovered in the area after the explosion.