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

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?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Cover Supervisor

£75 - £90 per day + negotiable: Randstad Education Group: Are you a cover supe...

Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Piper Ryan Randall leads a pro-Scottish independence rally in the suburbs of Edinburgh  

i Editor's Letter: Britain survives, but change is afoot

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
Some believe that David Cameron is to blame for allowing Alex Salmond a referendum  

Scottish referendum: So how about the English now being given a chance to split from England?

Mark Steel
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam