A big fat Greek soccer and racism controversy

Okay, I’ve got a couple of posts here that will probably wind up being posted in relatively quick succession. Both deal with similar topics (racism), but are completely different situations. This is the first of two.

The BBC reported on a Greek soccer player, Giorgos Katidis, who got in trouble for a Nazi salute. Giorgos has been banned from playing for the Greek national soccer team, and suspended from his professional soccer club.

This commentary post on backpagefootball.com takes a pretty critical angle towards Giorgos, who claims that he is not a facist at all, had no idea what a Nazi salute was, and claims he was simply pointing towards a friend in the stands. Further down, that article goes into further detail on Golden Dawn and the bad blood between soccer fans in both Albania and Greece and why this is an even bigger deal than it otherwise would be.

I believe most of what Giorgos is saying, but it is difficult for me to believe the bit about pointing. Usually, one does not point with the whole hand oriented in a salute position, one would point with one finger outstretched (specifically, the index finger).

I’d like to think Giorgos is telling the truth about not knowing what a Nazi salute is. It’s difficult to believe, but it’s still technically possible. Certainly, now he knows and won’t do it again.

I hate fascism and I agree in principle that there’s no place for it in professional sports anywhere. But I think the accused has a right to be heard and explain himself as well. I don’t like that backpagefootball.com uses the headline “ignorance is no excuse” (I’m linking to them because it’s the only commentary I could readily find).

Taking one on the wallet

Ever watched a sporting contest of some type where the performance was so bad you wished you could get your money back? Well, that wish came true for some soccer fans across the pond recently.

Sky News reports that after a particularly disastrous contest in which the home team, the Wigan Latics, lost 9-1 to the visiting Tottenham Hotspur, the players for the home team decided as a gesture to the loyal fans they would refund the purchase price of the admission tickets to the fans who paid to see the game.

Mario Melchiot, a defender for Wigan, told the team’s Web site:

“We feel that as a group of players we badly let down our supporters
yesterday, and this is a gesture we have to make and pay them back for
their tremendous loyalty.

“There is not a lot else to say, just that as a group of
professionals we were embarrassed by the way we performed, we feel
it was below our standards and this is something we feel we owe to
the fans.

It’s great to see that the players owned up to their dismal performance.
Admittedly, this kind of gesture is something I would like to see a bit
more often but I feel it should be reserved only for the worst of the
worst, where the stench of defeat fills the entire stadium. An example would
be the 59-0 loss the Tennessee Titans suffered at the hands of the New
England Patriots (were it to happen at the Titans’ home stadium).