OPINION

Not a single euro

The demand by Greece’s professional soccer clubs that the State cover their expenses by means of direct or indirect funding, let alone a potential positive response by the government to this scandalous request, is a major public provocation that should not be tolerated. It is unacceptable that soccer club officials have become addicted to lucrative state subsidies at the very time when an increasing number of economic sectors are run according to free market principles – even in cases where this involves serious social strain. They have concluded that they have a right to eat into the government budget; that is, to survive at the expense of Greece’s taxpayers. Besides, the decades-old funding of soccer clubs by the State has nurtured the emergence of several officials whose business activity treads on the fence of the underworld. The number of such officials is growing by the day. Greece’s state-dependent officials constitute the perfect manure for cultivating the rot that plagues soccer. They are the leading figures tangled between political and business interests and corruption, while their business activity has become restricted to bribing referees, players and other officials. They comprise the cornerstone of the notorious match-fixing racket. Most dramatically, these individuals use their teams to acquire political power and influence which extends beyond the soccer field into the country’s economic, social, and political spheres. Club owners make a fortune while their teams go bankrupt as a result of fraud, folly, or incompetence. Still, they remain confident that the government will bail them out. The claim that a refusal by the State to fund soccer clubs would block the progress of Greece’s soccer is fundamentally flawed. People do not want to witness «soccer club bubbles» reminiscent of stock market ones. People do not want to see small-caliber soccer players being priced in the multimillions merely because this serves the profiteering ploys of some obscure officials. The present crisis allows us an opportunity to cut soccer clubs down to size, so as to make them compatible with the small size of the local market, to purge soccer of corruption (both on and off the playing fields), and to prepare the ground for new club owners who will be able to live up to the requirements of an open market. The State should not spend a single euro on the clubs.