It’s the art of communication – the way you look at something, hoping that others will follow you so you don’t see something else. And in this case?
The Super League championship is now “up in flames” after Monday’s fiasco during the high-level meeting at the Hellenic Football Federation (EPO) offices. However, the only party, as it proved, interested in changing the situation before we reach an impasse entailed in a “season won’t conclude” moment is Olympiacos FC.
AEK Athens and PAOK Thessaloniki were full-scale on the side of EPO President Takis Baltakos and the federation’s head referee, Steve Bennett. Panathinaikos Athens’ Yannis Alafouzos followed in close order. Yes, that’s the same Alafouzos who during the first match of the Greek league’s play-off round issued 10 statements on the poor officiating by Montenegrin ref Nikola Dabanović. Under normal conditions he should have insisted on appointing only elite level referees for Greek pro league games.
The three aforementioned sides also exhibited the same attitude at the meeting, namely, “we do want elite referees, but…”
Only the Olympiacos side said clearly, “only elite refs or goodbye, Mr. Bennett.”
Yet the deck was, and remains “marked”.
Instead of various mass media attempting to at least keep up appearances by focusing on this impasse, they relied on distractions, such as what Vangelis Marinakis said in entering the building or what VP Costas Karapapas did at the end of the meeting.
As Horace Mann once said, “If an idiot were to tell you the same story every day for a year, you would end by believing it.”
Did they gather at the Goudi Park, EPO’s headquarters, for Karapapas? Did the “partners” lend their gracious support to Bennett and Baltakos because of Karapapas? Or, was Karapapas the reason for their “swallowing” something even bigger than the state of officiating in the Super League championship?
Because Olympiacos’ representatives handed out a position paper with 10 specific points, given to each participant at the meeting.
The tenth point refers directly to Baltakos:
“»Unfortunately, we’re living through days of shame for Greek football with this gentleman at the EPO helm! We’re experiencing an unpleasant surprise each waking day, something that causes revulsion among the people and further downgrades football. Yesterday, it was the Bennett letter that exposed Mr. Baltakos; the day before yesterday Greek sports fans were shocked when they witnessed our national football team wearing a jersey that should have been rejected with one glance.
Amid a period when a theoretician of fascism and the extreme right now retains EPO’s presidency, Greek sports fans are shaken by the monstrous (new) jersey of the national football team, which features a pattern on the jersey where the angled ends of the Cross are deleted, reminding us all of a swastika — a symbol that makes Greeks shudder. Yet the people running EPO today are incapable of taking even such a matter seriously.
Has anyone read any “quips” about this in the spin being doled out by those professional clubs’ PR teams, and by the federation?
Was a discussion held? Has anyone dealt with this issue, one that has embarrassed the entire nation?
Why? Because it’s not in anyone’s interest.
Did anyone really wonder if all of this has anything to do with Karapapas gesture? The story with the black skirt that he…gifted to the president of EPO?
Why should I agree with the concept that someone can’t and shouldn’t use a skirt as an «insulting» gesture. However, maybe the color of the skirt is a clue – as in black, the black of fascism. The country’s entire political world is furious with Baltakos, the far-right theoretician whose presence at the helm of EPO coincided with a swastika on the jersey, under the emblem of the Greek football federation.
Are these two related? Who knows. What is certain is that the only thing Baltakos does not want is to prove that this (obviously reprehensible) move had any political substance.
Will he say something relevant in the meeting with UEFA officials? No way…
In any case, it’s neither the first time that various kinds of “interventions” have targeted a far-right politician, nor the last. And often these “interventions” aren’t «polite».
It’s enough to think of instances involving Swedish far-right politician Jimmie Åkesson, who in 2013 got a cake thrown in his face, or British right-winger Nigel Farage, who had a milkshake poured on him, as well as the leader of the French far-right, Marine Le Pen, who in 2017 was on the receiving end of an egg.
Sometimes, in the face of the far-right …good manners have no place.