SPORTS

Panathinaikos president stokes the fires of adversity with Olympiakos

When flying to Portugal for last night’s historic Champions League match against Porto, with just one point needed from two remaining group games to be absolutely certain of a quarter-finals berth, Panathinaikos’s President Angelos Philippidis should have been totally focused on his club’s vital European club-level encounter. But when a Greek reporter on the flight asked him to comment on the hooliganism displayed at last weekend’s national league match between Xanthi and Olympiakos, Philippidis took full opportunity to disappointingly swerve from reality and unmask the hooligan within himself. He demanded that Olympiakos fans be barred from entering Panathinaikos’s home ground for an upcoming derby between the two perennial rivals, stating that «while Panathinaikos’s successes are earning Greek soccer headlines in Europe, another team’s supporters are giving Greek soccer a bad name.» Sadly, the man lacks the finer tactics required by his choice of studies, marketing management. Rather than encouraging the mass media to focus its attention on Panathinaikos’s important Champions League game, Philippidis has provided fodder for his adversaries to feed on. Unless, of course, he is determined to get the public exposure he wants at all costs. It did not take long for Olympiakos officials to respond to Philippidis’s outrageous demands. In its statement, the Piraeus side ironically downplayed the Panathinaikos boss’s remarks by asserting that it did not want to create pre-match tension. With plenty of time ahead of the March 24 match, this is likely to escalate. Which leads us to all those critics who often condemn fans in the stands as the really «mindless» ones. Ironically, top-ranked officials, who are in a position to promote Greek soccer, are instead digging its grave. As long as these individuals, who try to control the fates of the country’s biggest clubs – either directly or indirectly – fail to realize the full magnitude of their responsibilities, the future of Greek soccer may as well be branded a condemned sport. This has been pointed out before, and, unfortunately, it has been justified once again.

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