Sideline intrigue

The violent episodes at the Leoforos Alexandras stadium last weekend are the best proof that the sideline intrigue which is lurking in the world of Greek soccer has to be unraveled… Even Turkey, an otherwise underdeveloped country, has surpassed Greece, achieving what Greece has been seeking for years: to win a position among the major soccer powers and compete with them on an equal par. But how can this be achieved when at the domestic level the sport is bedeviled by a long crisis? By the time the Spanish league begins play every year, Real Madrid has already sold about 85,000 season tickets in advance. Every Sunday is like a feast and any defeat is seen as normal, a result of the team’s poor performance and not as the result of outside factors, as is the case in Greece. The same fiesta takes place in British and Italian stadiums… In Greece, however, especially over the last five years, there has been a widespread suspicion that the championship is subjected to extraordinary levels of manipulation. Less than a year has passed since the sports minister tried to make a radical break and clashed with the barons who reign supreme in soccer clubs, the soccer federation and the referees union. The figure who attempted the break was not allowed to continue his effort, and the specter of corruption is still haunting the sport. All results are questioned, often resulting in violent episodes, as happened on Sunday.

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