Political Football: Germany vs. Greece Deeper Than Match
Divided as sharply as negotiators in the European debt crisis talks, fans of Greece and Germany packed into a slammed Fados Irish Pub in Buckhead to watch the quarterfinal football game of Euro 2012.
On one side of the pub, Greek fans cheered when Greece tied up the game near the 60th minute and booed when German Chancellor Angela Merkel was shown on television. On the other side, fans with the German flag painted on their faces and draped around their backs started a roaring chant with each of Germany’s four decisive goals.
The split was obvious, especially to those with a solid understanding of the deeper political undertones at play.
“It’s ironic that we’re playing Germany in the Euro right now because politically it almost provides Greece an opportunity to provide Germany that slap in the face that a large portion of the population really wants right now,” Greek-American Nick Catrakilis told GlobalAtlanta.
Faced with mounting pressure to accept sharp austerity measures, Greece has withstood widespread speculation in recent months that it will leave the European Union and default on bailout measures led by Germany, the strongest and most stable economy in the EU.
Now it’s up to Greece’s three-party coalition government elected earlier this month and Prime Minister Antonis Samaras to secure another bailout deal with other Eurozone countries while balancing the demands of the Grecian people, setting the stage for another major showdown with European powers.
“There’s a lot of tension between the two countries, from a political standpoint as well as an economic standpoint,” Greek-American Tony Papadopoulos said. “And as a result of that, the Greeks see this match as a puppet battle for greater things.”
Even though it would have been difficult for the Greeks to expect a win against the top-ranked Germans, the real message being sent was that the Greeks wouldn’t go down without a fight, Mr. Papadopoulos continued.
Other fans at Fados agreed, saying it was the struggle that mattered and not necessarily the outcome for the underdog team, Greece, which lost 4-2.
“On a deeper level, this game means much more than any other Greece game that we’d watch,” said Dimitri Iliabis, a Greek-American student at Georgia State University.
“There’s a lot more passion and a lot more heart because it resembles us fighting a little bit for our freedom, so we’re not just playing another soccer match, we’re playing a game against the people we’re afraid are going to take over our country,” he continued.