Nathalie Savaricas: Football success shows teamwork can boost country's fortunes

Desperation has fuelled a rise in extremism. Four Egyptian fishermen were savagely beaten last week

Share
Related Topics

Like everybody else in Greece, I was not really caught by surprise when the new Socialist government in 2009 announced Greece's deficit and debt were far bigger than its predecessors had announced. A lax approach to statistics and similar formalities has always seemed to be the norm in Greece.

While these weaknesses drive Greeks up the wall, for me they also endowed this nation with a peculiar charm. But neither I nor anybody else expected these intentional miscalculations to bring about such catastrophic results that are now tearing the country's social fabric apart.

Undoubtedly, the punishing measures attached to the bailout packages have compounded Greece's financial crisis. Recession is now in its fifth year, scores of businesses have shut, social services are in disarray and unemployment continues to climb while one out of two young people is now looking for a job – possibly abroad.

Educated young Greeks are doing menial jobs for scanty money – for around €500 (£400) a month. One highly educated entrepreneur I know quit his top position at a multinational bank to open a restaurant just before the crisis kicked in. But customers and profit dwindled as parliament voted for wage cuts and increased taxes. He shut his restaurant a year ago and started looking for jobs anywhere in the world, including Iraq and Afghanistan. Today he's a skipper on rented luxury boats. There is no doubt that Greece needs to change many of its old ways. But change in mentality does not come overnight or within a few years. And change cannot come from a nation in shock.

Misery and poverty are rampant and instead of uniting Greeks, have polarised a society that is desperate for change.

This desperation has fuelled a rise in extremism. Four Egyptian fishermen were savagely beaten in their house near Piraeus last week. Violence has soared, reflecting the depth of this crisis and the desire to punish.

I feel nervous walking to my apartment at night and sleep with the lights on when as a child I played carefree in the street until late at night. The rate of armed robberies and theft in Athens is now comparable to any other European capital, though Greece had traditionally little crime. In a county where family ties are strong, scenes of people sleeping in the street are no longer scarce.

In times of crisis one would expect Greece to put unity and co-operation over party politics and ideology. The country's football team filled Greeks with pride on Saturday as the tiny country beat Russia to proceed to the quarter finals of the European championships. I suddenly found myself cheering the team and felt my eyes swelling up, even though football has never really interested me. Proof that good team work can take this country a long way.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Retail Team Leader - Clothing / Footwear

£18000 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Does this sound like you? - Fri...

Recruitment Genius: Head Chef

£22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join an indepe...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Services Team Leader

£18000 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Area Manager - North West - Registered Charity

£31800 - £35400 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This registered charity's missi...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Channel 4's Married at First Sight  

Married At First Sight is the social experiment that proves we've forgotten how to fall in love

Ruby Thomas
Dolphin Square where Lord Sewel allegedly took drugs with prostitutes  

Lord Sewel's real crime was joining the House of Lords in the first place

Boris Corovic
Solved after 200 years: the mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army

Solved after 200 years

The mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army
Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise

Robert Fisk on the Turkey conflict

Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise
Investigation into wreck of unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden

Sunken sub

Investigation underway into wreck of an unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden
Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes

Age of the selfie

Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes
Not so square: How BBC's Bloomsbury saga is sexing up the period drama

Not so square

How Virginia Woolf saga is sexing up the BBC period drama
Rio Olympics 2016: The seven teenagers still carrying a torch for our Games hopes

Still carrying the torch

The seven teenagers given our Olympic hopes
The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis, but history suggests otherwise

The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis...

...but history suggests otherwise
The bald truth: How one author's thinning hair made him a Wayne Rooney sympathiser

The bald truth

How thinning hair made me a Wayne Rooney sympathiser
Froome wins second Tour de France after triumphant ride into Paris with Team Sky

Tour de France 2015

Froome rides into Paris to win historic second Tour
Fifteen years ago, Concorde crashed, and a dream died. Today, the desire to travel faster than the speed of sound is growing once again

A new beginning for supersonic flight?

Concorde's successors are in the works 15 years on from the Paris crash
I would never quit Labour, says Liz Kendall

I would never quit party, says Liz Kendall

Latest on the Labour leadership contest
Froome seals second Tour de France victory

Never mind Pinot, it’s bubbly for Froome

Second Tour de France victory all but sealed
Oh really? How the 'lowest form of wit' makes people brighter and more creative

The uses of sarcasm

'Lowest form of wit' actually makes people brighter and more creative
A magazine editor with no vanity, and lots of flair

No vanity, but lots of flair

A tribute to the magazine editor Ingrid Sischy
Foraging: How the British rediscovered their taste for chasing after wild food

In praise of foraging

How the British rediscovered their taste for wild food