I attended the Australia vs Greece game on Tuesday night with my 14yr old son, a colleague and his 20yr old son. We, like many of the crowd, wore the blue and white and the gold and green. In fact I was happy to see many wear scarves half in green and gold and blue and white.
Behind me sat two passionate Greek Aussie fans barracking for the Socceroos, not Greece. They were loud but far less irritating than the average Collingwood fan - and I’m one of those. The game was uneventful beyond that brilliant goal by Greece from midway. There was one flare lit on the other side of the pitch by the Greek fan squad, and after the game 32,000 people – many of them Australians of Greek and other heritages, (like my son who is Greek Spanish Australian) – departed peacefully and I took my boy for dumplings.
The next morning when I switched on ABC Breakfast News there was discussion about flares on Lonsdale St - anyone seeing the report would think a London or LA race riot or 1980s European soccer hooligan war had erupted. From the front page of the Herald Sun one would assume that rampaging rioters engulfed the city. The racist undercurrent in the reports was clear; the Greeks fans, all of them, were violent.
The most negligent headline from the Herald Sun was, “Soccer’s suburban terrorists strike again as violence flares before Socceroos v Greece match”. This was appalling. Let’s face it, these ‘terrorists’ are not Greek nationals, they are Australian young men, and at most there’s a hard core idiotic group of about twenty.
Yes, these are Australian-born, not Greek nationals, nor do they represent the vast and overwhelming majority of Greek Australian football fans who made up most of the 34,000 people at the game. The worse aspect of this racist reporting was lack of knowledge and research displayed by journalists.
One Herald Sun report wrote that these goons were “carrying an Ancient Greek flag”; well there is no such thing as an Ancient Greek Flag. The Greek Flag came into being in the 1830s during the War of Independence against the Ottoman Empire. What the journalist may be referring to is the fascist Golden Dawn emblem, again a very modern one.
A problem which the Greek Community as an official entity, the Greek Media and the Greek community as citizens of Victoria is dealing with is a group about 30 young men between 16yrs and 35yrs who belong to the Greek fascist group, Golden Dawn. These ultra-nationalists and racists infiltrated the Hellas Fan Club. They are moronic in the truest sense of the Greek word; i.e. infantile, inept, repressed and ignorant. The Hellas Fan Club needs to identify these thugs then turn them over to the police. They are an embarrassment to the Greek community here as well as the Greeks in Greece, and they, like all fascist groups find solace in chaos. Worse, given that the majority of Greeks fought against fascism in WWII and during the 1967-74 Junta.
Golden Dawn has slipped in polls dramatically, their leader is in gaol, and Greece is now run by one of the most left-wing governments in the western world. Even as fascists Golden Dawn are pretty ineffective, but they are malicious and racist.
Regardless of the facts, malice infected mainstream reporting of this event. The fact are there was less violence before the match than during the Boxing Day Test last December when over 90 fans were evicted from the MCG for offenses such as discharging "missiles", drunkenness, bad language and affray. Unlike the Herald Sun, I did not assume that the 90 fans evicted from the cricket represent all Australian cricket fans.
In reality the Hellas Fan Club needs to be barred from sporting events until they oust all Golden Dawn wankers. Yet the Hellas Fan Club is very Australian. The thousands of other Greek Australians, many of them families, went to the game and left peacefully, with no sense of any violence.
Worse, the media and Herald Sun especially, forgets that Greeks were Australia’s allies in World War I against the Axis aligned Turks and in WWII against the Nazi Germans, in fact saving many of the Anzacs on Crete. Greeks were Australia’s allies in the Korean War and are Australia’s allies in Afghanistan.
While the mainstream media feels content to racially and culturally undermine certain Australians, regardless of the facts, the Hellas Fan Club needs to stop shaming the Greek Australian community.