Saturday, June 28, 2014

On Keeping Greece in the Game.

Samaras is a hero.

No, not Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras.

Greece Prime Minister Antonis Samaras

Greece national team player Georgios Samaras
I’m talking about Greek soccer player Georgios Samaras, a striker on Greece’s World Cup soccer team who scored the winning goal on a penalty kick in the injury-time additional three minutes of Greece’s Tuesday match against Ivory Coast to send his country into its first ever Final Sixteen stage of FIFA World Cup play. That elimination-round match takes place at eleven o’clock tomorrow night, Greek time, against Costa Rica.

Greece’s victory brought joy to its beleaguered populace, just as Georgios Samaras said he hoped it would do in his post game remarks attributing success to a team effort.  But alas, there’s an ironic twist to this hero.  He came to Greece to support its national team, but earns his living elsewhere, playing for Scottish Premier League Team Celtic.
Celebrating winning goal against Ivory Coast

And that my friends just about exhausts my knowledge of Georgios Samaras, World Cup play, and soccer in general.  Though I must say I’ve grown to enjoy watching it…at least the well-played games, to the extent I can tell which ones they are.

But what about the other Samaras? Many in the media say he, too, is in the final minutes of play, and absent a screw up by his opponent, not likely to make it into another round.  Here’s a bit of the view of one journalist, Alexis Papachelas of Greece’s newspaper of record, Ekathimeri:

There are plenty of people who voted the current coalition government into power two years ago that feel they are being given no choice but to choose the opposition SYRIZA party in the next general election and resent it. They are angered by a number of political decisions made by the [Samaras] government following the cabinet reshuffle [three weeks ago] and especially by the removal of certain politicians who got things done and defended their choices openly. Even before the reshuffle, these voters were angry at decisions that showed the political system is incapable of changing its tune regardless of the mess it has made of the country.

These voters constitute the backbone of what used to be the middle class in Greece and it is they who have paid one of the highest prices for the crisis. They have been bled dry by taxation and driven to near-insanity by ludicrous measures such as allowing any tax official to freeze their bank accounts at the slightest hint of a misdeed….

The prime minister…was seen as a leader who could be relied on, who would get the country to the other side of the river. All of a sudden, however, two-thirds of the way across and with the waters calmer, they feel that something has gone terribly wrong. Someone has sowed panic, the crew is starting to argue, the compass is spinning, and the passengers are frightened….

Many battles still need to be fought before we will know with any certainty where things are headed and the government will come under a tremendous amount of pressure in the next few months. How it deals with this pressure will depend of whether the prime minister will tolerate destructive politicians.

Hmmm, if a game plan that elevated commitment to national goals above personal interests, encouraged creative teamwork, and inspired diligent preparation for such opportunities as good fortune might present worked for one Samaras, perhaps the other should take heed.

Player Samaras consoling losing team's goalkeeper.



  1. Oy, man, y'er krule. The day after Caro fuels the flames of fandom for the Scottish Footsies, you rub it in her face that one of the players on the Scottish team went home to play for Greece in the cup. Krule, man.

    As for the politicians, they're mostly in the 99% club: 99% of the time, it doesn't matter WHO is in office, we're screwed.

  2. What can I say, Everett, some of us are born to be krule, others to be King Krule. And on that (musical) note I shall leave you to join in the celebratory run-up to Greece's match tomorrow against Costa Rica. By the way, without intending to offend an additional segment of the Commonwealth, I can't help but mention that soccer player Samaras stood eligible to play for Australia, as his father was born there, but he chose to play for the blue and white.

  3. Well politics should be kept out of football. Football is too important....

    1. But wouldn't you just love a "red card" concept in politics?