The firing squad

Why did Greece lose to South Korea, so easily in fact as to make some say that «we lost a part of our national sovereignty,» a phrase so popular in the post-IMF era? The defeat is not hard to explain: If you ask our nation’s guardians, responsibility lies with those ungrateful Koreans, who would lose as thanks to the Greek soldiers who served in the Korean War. According to Olympiakos fans, it was the blunders made by the Panathinaikos players – defender Loukas Vyntra, right-back Giourkas Seitaridis and goalkeeper Alexis Tzorvas, who has yet to learn a thing or two about coming for a cross. For the Panathinaikos crowd, it was Vassilis Torosidis, who plays for the Reds, that failed to score early on in the game and Avraam Papadopoulos, who failed to tackle the Korean striker following Vyntra’s gaffe. If you ask AEK supporters, the problem is that there is only one AEK player in the World Cup, Rafik Djebbour, and he plays for Algeria. For supporters of PAOK, the fault lies with the Athens establishment, which did not trust goalie Costas Halkias with a starting place. Finally, for most in the Aris camp, the problem is that Michalis Sifakis and Sakis Prittas were not used as replacements. Exaggeration? The sarcastic comments in the club-affiliated press in the wake of the World Cup defeat and the fiery debates on Internet blogs suggest otherwise. According to people on the left, we lost because there was no left-footed player in the squad. For those who are center right or center left, the problem was that little attention was payed to the center. For right-wing LAOS, the problem was that Giorgos Anatolakis, a former-player-turned-LAOS-MP, was not picked to safeguard the defense. For the church folk, we lost because only a few of the players crossed themselves before the game – and they only half-heartedly. And for the conspiracy theorists, it was coach Otto Rehhagel who, charmed by Angela Merkel, set up the team in such a way that it would lose and justify the German chancellor’s argument that Greeks live more luxurious lives than they deserve – also in the soccer world. Some insist we lost because the team is a reflection of ourselves: It lacks serious planning and coordination – just like Greece’s political and economic policy. It played passively, much like we are dealing with the economic crisis. And it stuck with the patron-client system, because it’s the system which confirms Greece’s peculiarity.