A few words for Alkis and the empty promises we’ve heard before
I don’t know much about Alkis Kambanos but based on what I’m reading and hearing he couldn’t have been much different than any one of us. An Aris fan that loved to watch his team’s football as well as basketball matches. A 19-year-old man that was building his future at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (ΑΠΘ). So basically, a young Greek lad that was set for a tough future in a world that seemingly becomes increasingly more brutal by each passing day but still made time to watch his beloved club in action during the weekend. Truthfully, any one of us could have been in Alkis’ shoes and any one of us can still find themselves in that situation.
What I do know is that Alkis’ murder wasn’t the first case of hooligan violence in Greece and I’m afraid it won’t even be the last. It was 15 years ago when Panathinaikos fan Mihalis Filopoulos made headlines after being stabbed to death by similar thugs and the then government promised they would take the fight against those yobs to the bone. And the rest is history…
What I also know is that in 2021 alone there were a total of 118 incidents of hooligan-related violence. That is one incident every three days! A crowd of punks that aren’t limited to football-related extremism but also far-right organisations and corrupt mob-like groups running wild on the taxpayers’ streets without opposition.
Can we hope that this sickness will finally be eradicated? It’s nice to hear promises of a zero-tolerance approach towards gang violence, something we’ve heard before. But how confident can one be when reports from reliable sources argue there is a link between those hooligan groups and powerful figures at the top that are untouchable and have imposed an unbreakable omerta?
How confident can one be when a club owner’s relative shares a photo of a knife after a derby win? How can we hope for a quick end when a so-called respected journalist describes Alkis’ death as a pre-arranged clash between rival fans when in fact he was just hanging out with friends before those bullies attacked them? Can we sincerely expect a serious approach when well-known news outlets make the whole story about the key suspect’s nationality with racist headlines? Can we anticipate change when an experienced footballer and former captain of the Greek national team shouts obscenities unprovokedly on camera towards fans of the same team the victim supported just a few hours after the killing? All that during a match when emotions are running high, just a few metres away from where the actual attack took place…
I am one of the few young Greek fans that can honestly say they watched a derby with both sets of fans in attendance. The reason why this doesn’t exist anymore – and probably won’t for a very long time – is not because Greeks are unruly barbarians. But because the forces that be simply refuse to tackle that scourge seriously!