Supporters show a rare good side during AEK-Olympiakos game

Sunday’s much-touted clash between defending champion Olympiakos and AEK, which was bundled from the league’s top spot by its opponent after losing 3-2 at home, proves that we can hope for a better future in Greek soccer. Despite the prematch tension that was generated by the clash’s high stakes – AEK needed a win or even draw to maintain its slender, two-point lead – and underscored by strict security measures taken to avert violence, all went well. One of the many highlights of good behavior displayed by players, officials and fans of both clubs was the warm reception by Olympiakos fans to a crippled, wheelchair-stricken AEK fan, Nikos Xyrokostas, as he passed before them. There was more. Olympiakos coach Takis Lemonis acknowledged the rival club’s overall hospitality. In his post-match comments, AEK’s Portuguese coach Fernando Santos described Olympiakos’s victory as fair. On the pitch, the teams fought fairly and with respect for the opponent throughout the game, without seeking to incite fans in the stands. As for the game’s referee, not the most enviable of tasks for your typical Greek derby, nobody seemed to pay attention to him. Top-ranked club and state sporting officials should heed the exemplary behavior. If they can live up to Sunday’s on-pitch accomplishment, then we can expect better days ahead. The sole negative aspect was the sub-standard condition of the pitch. The players deserve to be congratulated for their fine efforts on such rough terrain.

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