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Xenophobia in Sport

Xenophobia in Sport

The football community in Greece, fan clubs of different teams are an exaggerated reflection of the situation in the whole Greek society torn by opposing political contradictions. For example, those fans of Greek football club AEK identifying themselves as anti-fascists and anarchists united into the fan-club “Original 21”, and fans of the same club supporting “Golden Dawn” and the radical nationalists united in club “Ghetto”. Neo-Nazi associations also include “Gate 13”, which was formed around the team “Panathinaikos”. Anti-fascist fans of “Atromitos” united into “Fentagin”. The clashes between the two sides are a regular thing, football events included. On March 16, 2013 AEK midfielder Giorgos Katidis marked the scored goal with the Nazi greeting. On October 11, during the match against Slovakia Greek fans chanted xenophobic slogans.

Often the pro-Nazi fan clubs are used by the Golden Dawn. As an example, a group consisting of 70 football fans attacked immigrants during the mass celebration of the victory of Greece over Russian in the EuroCup in the early morning on June 17, 2012 in Omonoia square in central Athens. They stopped buses and attacked non-Greek passengers wielding fists and feet and threatening anyone who tried to resist them. Nevertheless, in general anti-fascists have prevailed in the events regarding sports in Greece up to now, perhaps because they are actively working with the representatives of anarchist organisations.

The Football Federation of Greece promotes a tough anti-fascist position. A striking evidence of this is its decision to issue a lifetime ban to the AEK player Giorgos Katidis for a Nazi salute he performed after scoring their winning goal in one of the matches against “Veria” in the national championship on March 16, 2013.

In addition the Greek Football Federation made an official statement: “The gesture performed by this player defies common sense and breaks the hearts of millions of people, not only in Greece but also worldwide. We completely condemn Nazi atrocities and believe that such expression of “emotions” have no place in football. Therefore the federation has decided to disqualify Katidis for life due to this act being one of the most serious violations regarding the existing rules of FIFA and UEFA. We urge the clubs to amend their contracts so that they include a clause on prohibiting such actions from players”.

Harsh anti-fascist stance is taken by the Greek Football Federation. A striking evidence of this is its decision on a lifetime ban of the AEK player Giorgos for a Nazi welcome gesture after scoring his winning goal in one of the matches of the national championship in a match against “Veria” on March 16, 2013.

The Greek Football Federation made the following statement: “Players act, deciding to greet fans in a Nazi manner, is a serious provocation, insulting to all victims of Nazi regime and is damaging to the peaceful and humanistic nature of football. We absolutely condemn the Nazi acts of atrocity and consider such “manifestation of emotion” unacceptable in football. Due to this the Federation has decided to impose a lifetime ban on Katidis, as this act is one of the worst violations considering the current rules of the UEFA and FIFA. We call for a contractual obligation to prohibit these actions in the football team agreements”.

On March 21, Katidis himself asked to be temporarily removed from AEK team, calling his actions “completely unacceptable”. “I feel terrible for those whom I upset with the stupidity of my action. I also fully understand the reasons behind the decision made by the Greek Football Federation, to whom I must apologise greatly, as it helped me become the person I am now in my profession,” he said.

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