Greek fans down but proudAgence France-Presse . Athens
Greek fans voiced disappointment on Friday after losing to Germany in a Euro 2012 quarter-final clash but said they were still proud of their team and defiant against German chancellor Angela Merkel.
The cafes in the Thissio neighbourhood near the Acropolis buzzed with anticipation ahead of the hotly anticipated game against debt-mired Greece’s paymaster and fell silent when Germany scored a first-half goal in Gdansk.
The fans exploded with joy, hugging, dancing and jumping on chairs, when striker Giorgos Samaras – who shares the same surname as the prime minister elected on Sunday Antonis Samaras – evened the score in the second half.
‘Greece ole ole! We’ll never stop singing Greece ole ole!’ they chanted along with another slogan against the eurozone giant seen as being behind widely-hated austerity measures: ‘This is how those who owe you screw you!’
There was loud booing every time Merkel, who was attending the match, appeared on the screen and some of the fans held up their open palms – an insult in Greece where the gesture is seen as a way of casting a curse.
‘We boo because Merkel has imposed so many things on us,’ said Ierasimos Paterakis, a 17-year-old draped in the Greek flag, and one of millions glued to their screens across the country for the unexpected quarter-final.
There were shouts of ‘Bravo Samaras’ – the goal scorer, not the PM.
As the match progressed and Germany scored three more goals though, the cafes fell silent. Meletis Remoussis, 18, said: ‘How do I feel? I feel awful!’ – before jumping with joy when Greece clinched a last-minute penalty.
Remoussis, who is starting university this year, told AFP ahead of the game: ‘We want to show them that we’re something more than what Merkel says.’
The atmosphere in the cafes remained good-hearted, however, and fans stressed that while they may have something against Merkel they were not against Germans or Germany and said that the better team won the game.
‘We don’t have anything against the people or against the football players. We were 90 percent sure Germany would win because they are a better team,’ said Fotis Triantis, an Internet cafe owner.
Dimitris Karabatsis, a student, said: ‘They might have won, but we gave them a difficult time. Congratulations and bravo to Greece.’
Greek sports tabloids had been characteristically defiant before the game.
‘Make them bankrupt,’ thundered a headline in the Sport Day newspaper.
‘Shut their mouths,’ said Derby daily, which ran a front-page picture of an ancient Greek warrior and the defiant response of ancient Sparta when asked by the Persians to surrender their weapons: ‘Molon Labe’ (‘Come and Take Them’).
But Angelos Makos, a 34-year-old Greek who teaches German and grew up near Stuttgart, said he just enjoyed the game with no politics involved. He supported Greece and watched the game at an outdoor cafe with German friends.
‘I am disappointed but the truth is that Germany played better then Greece, so they earned it, I believe,’ he said.
‘For a very small country like Greece, it is a great achievement to be in the quarter-finals.’
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