Vassilis Sambrakos reads the interview of the French international footballer in “L’ Equipe”, in which he described what it is like to play football in Greece.
There are countless cases, in football, in which I have realized that through the eyes of a foreigner you can see the Greek reality better because, as a rule, the foreigner’s judgment is emotionally detached. There are also countless cases that have made me realize that the reputation that Greek football creates or maintains internationally is based on or at least influenced by the experience brought by foreigners who have worked or are working in Greece. In football, the thing works roughly the same as in tourism, with the difference that here those who convey impressions are usually “famous” and therefore big influencers – that is, someone whose word exerts a great influence on the global community.
Djibril Sidibe of France who won the World Cup and has about 450 thousand followers is such an example – especially when he expresses himself about Greek football through “L’ Equipe” with 15+ million visitors per month (on its website).
What did the 31-year-old Frenchman say, transferring the experience of settling in Greece to play football? “When you move from Monaco to Greece, you shouldn’t have heart problems. Fans light flares, firecrackers go off everywhere. On average, crosses in our home games start 8 minutes late as you can’t see anything through the smoke. They throw flares during the match. I had never seen this before.” And it didn’t stop at recording the problematic situation. In fact, he suggested the solution: “There are restrictions in European games and the atmosphere is more classic”. It was as if he told us that “they know how to behave in a civilized manner and they do it selectively only where there is no regime of impunity”.
All this chaos that often prevails in the Greek stadiums seems normal to us today because at the same time chaos has started to prevail elsewhere – even in the Champions League, as we saw watching Real Sociedad – Benfica on Wednesday night at the “Reala Arena” ” of San Sebastian. But what happened there, both off and on the field, apparently does not create the new norm of legalizing insanity and on-field violence. And it is certain that UEFA will intervene in this to create, with a penalty, an example that will act as a deterrent. That is exactly where we, as a football ecosystem, are suffering. This is the explanation for the fact that what in San Sebastian was the exception is here the rule.
Under normal circumstances we should be bothered by the fact that Djibril Sidibe labeled us, essentially, Ugandans. In fact for all of us Sidibe’s words are the words of a Thursday, and tomorrow dawns a Friday.
It would be of great value to make a documentary in which the most famous football players and coaches who have worked in Greece in the last 20 years would honestly express themselves about their Greek experience. It would be of great value to see them all together telling us the truth face to face. Because everything today is an “image”, the visualization of our shame is likely to provoke this necessary introspection.
The production of this documentary should be financed by the Superleague itself. To then organize a brilliant premiere in a big cinema and put in the hall only the owners of the teams. Those who have the objective and greater responsibility for this mess we live in the stadiums.