This not a… commercial matter. It refers not to transfers of players, it includes no intrigue and it is hard even to see its relation to football. And yet, it is probable that if someone hasn’t yet taken a look to what is happening now in Boston, it really is worth the trouble to dedicate some time to it. Probably, it will offer a gift of thought to him of herself, regarding the true potential of the ‘king of sports’ and for the role that it could demand in the era of Globalization, provided that he / she will sometime want it.
For each one of us football is something different or many things together. Football means memories, one’s team, it is entertainment, fun, and it is a… passion. It is perhaps the “most serious bagatelle in the world”, as Christian Bromberger once put it. Football, for some of the smartest minds of our time can be evolved into one of the most powerful weapons of society regarding the walls raised by various discriminations between people. It is the key that unlocks the doors of fear. All forms of racism, xenophobia, nations, religions, political beliefs, all forms of such attachment find their… answer in football, even if most of us haven’t realized it yet.
Take for example Mohamed Salah and all that is happening in Liverpool. In a period when the West tends to treat every Muslim as ‘enemy number one’ a football player forces Enlgishmen to chant to his favor “I’ll be Muslim Too”. No diplomat and no political leader could contribute as much as Salah did to this strange reversal. No one could have changed the French perception of immigrants more than the national team of 1998 which won the World Cup with Zidane (Algeria), Djorkaeff (Armenia), Karembeu (New Caledonia), Thuram (Guadeloupe), Trezeguet (Argentina), Desailly (Ghana) being the main players. And why go that far? No one made this discussion easier in our country than the ‘undocumented’ Giannis Antetokounmpo and his story that one day it will sure be turned into a Hollywood script.
In fact, sports and above all football, have managed to develop their own code, their own language which is understood throughout the planet. Especially, recently when football managed to open the vast markets of China, India and the US (where women’s football is a huge hit in colleges but also outside of them). Consequently, if football manages to transmit the right messages, it can make our world a better place. If it is used in the right direction.
This is the idea that academics and holders of PhDs are discussing, all of them football fans, that have rallied around Harvard. This is the idea that Olympiacos supports and promotes, a team that recently prides itself upon its outstanding social and cultural activities. Even today in Mandra, five months after the flood and the disaster, the Red and White team struggles to help local inhabitant’s return to normality. Olympiacos that was present at the port of Piraeus to offer food to refugees, that travelled to Kefallonia and Pserimos to support morally but also financially the people that were in need, offering help but also a kind word to start over again. Olympiacos put the UNICEF logo on and supported the vaccination of thousands of children all over the world.
The Boston Conference is entitled ‘Participation, Inclusion and Social Responsibility in Global Sports’. The one held last September at the ‘Karaiskakis’ stadium was the birthplace of the ‘Athens Principle’. An initiative regarding participation that was first signed by Vangelis Marinakis and now is supported by Barcelona, Real Madrid and a series of major athletic organizations (such as the Euroleague). At the beginning of the Harvard Conference it was made known that the ‘Athens Principle’ is now in the hands of teams from China, Chile, India etc. Real and Barcelona both take part in this think tank. We find there Emilio Butragueño for the European Champions and president Bartomeu for the Catalans. Also the Red Sox are there, one of the most important teams in the history of sports (Boston is after all the sport city of the US). Lilian Thuram is there and of course Christian Karembeu and other important personalities whose presence there gives football fans a chance to take a more careful look at what is taking place.
“I have many people, to whom I would like to refer to. Above all, I would like to thank our sponsor, Olympiacos and its president, Mr Vangelis Marinakis, because they this conference possible”, Stefan Ortega, the Harvard host, stressed, highlighting the role of the president of the Reds and Whites to this event.