Germany and Greece. Two teams. Worlds apartAgence France-Presse . Warsaw
Greece may have won the European Championships more recently than their Euro 2012 quarter-final opponents Germany but in terms of history and organisation, the two teams
are worlds apart.
In terms of honours, few sides in football can hold a candle to the Mannschaft, who have been European champions three times and finished runners-up on the same number of occasions.
On the biggest stage, Germany have been world champions three times and have the best record in World Cup history, having finished in the top four no fewer than 12 times, eclipsing even five-times winners Brazil and four-times winners Italy.
That compares to a solitary Euro 2004 win for Greece and only two appearances in the World Cup finals.
The size of their trophy cabinets is not the only difference between the two sides.
Domestically, the top German leagues are a class apart from their Greek equivalent and a strong indicator of the country’s footballing superpower status.
German clubs have won the old European Cup and now Champions League six times and been runners-up on nine occasions, compared to just a single finals appearance for a Greek team and no victory.
The Bundesliga, where many Greek players ply their trade, is also increasingly seen as a model of sound business practice, amid wider concern about clubs spending beyond their means, particularly in the market-leading English Premier League.
According to a German football league report on the 2010-11 season, overall revenues increased for the seventh straight year to a record 1.94 billion euros ($2.45 billion, 1.56 billion pounds) -- a 9.7 per cent increase year-on-year.
Twelve of the 18 top tier clubs were in the black—up from seven the previous season—while average crowds of 42,101 were the best in Europe.
‘The Bundesliga is in a very sound position,’ said the report ‘The Economic State of German Professional Football’, published in January. ‘On the whole, it is economically viable as well as competitive in the sport.’
In recession-hit Greece, the economic crisis has inevitably hit the domestic leagues, exacerbating wider problems with below-par playing standards, hooliganism and match-fixing allegations.
Teams in the top tier Super League share broadcasting rights totalling 44.35 million euros but the 22.5 million euros in sponsorship from state-owned betting firm OPAP the season before last was slashed to 8.5 million euros last season.
More cuts are likely to be on the way after pay-TV broadcaster Nova last week requested a 25 per cent cut in the money that it pays to the Greek league and clubs, citing a drop in subscribers.
The financial crisis has left many Super League clubs owing large sums and only champions Olympiakos and Atromitos Athens have met their financial obligations to obtain operating licences.
If UEFA rules were enforced to the letter, it is thought that only about five clubs would be granted operating licences.
According to the international players’ union FIFPro, two-thirds of professional footballers playing in Greece are not paid on time while as many as one third can wait up to six months to get their salaries.
Even then, Greek players hardly receive the big money paid to their counterparts in the likes of the Premier League, Spain’s La Liga or Serie A in Italy.
The Professional Football Players’ Association in Greece says the average Super League player earns 10,000 euros a month, with the lowest at 840 euros.
Cash-strapped clubs and a struggling league are also labouring to fill seats, with the average crowd at Super League games just 5,000 last season, further hitting cash flows.
Olympiakos had an average of 21,500 but lowly Doxa Drama had just 677, according to league figures.
With no end in sight to Greece’s debt crisis, there are fears that crowds could fall even further next year, as fans struggle to renew season tickets or even afford the 20 to 50 euros for an individual match ticket.
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