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Wednesday, January 05, 2005 

Drop Kick Me Through the Goalposts of Greece

Will someone PLEASE explain to me why Panathinaikos Soccer club is being allowed to build a new soccer venue in Goudi? And why does it have to be on a site that was supposed to have been the grounds for a new and badly needed park in one of the last patches of green space in Athens? Has the government taken full leave of their collective two brain cells in order to pacify a bunch of hooligan voters? (And YES I meant "hooligan"...don't MAKE me have to pull up all my bookmarks on hooligan activities by Greek soccer fans over the past 5 years!)

I realize that Panathinaikos needs a new stadium in order to host Champions League games as dictated by UEFA but couldn't they have hammered out a deal with the government over a long term lease of one of the sites built for the Olympic Games? Rival team, Olympiakos managed to do that with the Karaiskaki stadium in Faliron.

As far as I know, the OAKA stadium in Maroussi seats 55,000 and has already been used for the Olympic soccer finals. The only plan devised for it so far by Culture minister, Fani Palli-Petralia is to call it the "Olympic Walk" and let tourists walk around looking at the fancy steel roof on it. With grand ideas such as this, she'll be making pretty shapes out of balloons in Syntagma by the time she leaves office. Surely, leasing it to one of Greece's favourite soccer clubs would be a much better idea. If it was good enough for Olympians, it's good enough for Panathinaikos.

With almost 2.2 billion euros spent on just sports venues and equipment for the Olympics, do we really NEED yet another stadium?