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June 25, 2012

Symbolism on the Soccer Field

Rixey Browning

Friday’s quarterfinal meeting of Germany and Greece in the 2012 Union of European Football Association’s championship tournament was not surprising for many German fans. The Greeks were holding onto some hope of repeating its unexpected 2004 tournament win. But for many fans, the game was more than a soccer quarterfinal.


It was an image of the debt crisis being played out in 90 minutes between the underdogs and the kings of the Eurozone. If Greece had won, it would be more than tournament hopes set aflame – it would be hopes to beat the debt crisis plaguing their country.


In the Eurozone, Germany has the prized economy and soccer team. Their economy stands as a model for the rest to follow. With the implementation of the Euro in 1999, the point of using a common currency in each of the 17 member states was to bring all members onto a more level playing field. By having the same currency, inflation could be brought under control, and states with weaker economies could be brought up to the level of states with stronger economies, such as Germany.


The German economy is built, not on raw materials, but on industrialism. The country has almost no raw materials, yet is home to 37 of the Fortune 500’s largest (in stock market value) companies in the world. The nation is a true modern power.


When compared to Germany, most European economies cannot keep up. The same is especially true for Greece, which has relied on German support of the Euro for bailouts throughout the past few years. The Greek economy has shrunk every year since 2008, and with the added parasite of uncontrolled government spending, it has now become a breeding ground for debt.


The German soccer team has a history of being quite powerful, as well. Winning World Cups in 1954, 1974, and 1990, and winning European Championships in 1972, 1980, and 1996, the German team is among the top five in the world. Many soccer critics will speak of the German style of play as that of a fine machine. It has evolved over the past century, but consists of the same integral components put together in the right order. They are practical, never over the top or too theatrical. The German team is reliable, just like its economy. It is a team and a style that others have tried to emulate, although it is never nearly as successful for anyone other than the Germans.


In contrast, the Greek team has a history of sporadic wins. Until their European Championship in 2004, it had only competed in the Euro tournament and the World Cup one time each. Their style of play is very fluid, yet marred by a lack of true cohesiveness.


Like its economy, the Greek team has never had reliable leadership or a history of global competitiveness. It was added into the Eurozone in an attempt to reach economic heights of the likes of Germany. Greece was told to look up to the same nation’s tactics on the soccer field as well.


If Greece had won on Friday, it would have meant a multitude of hopes would have been rekindled. It would have been a symbolic game; and there was hope, as the game was tied briefly in the second half.


However, in order to create a successful economy, and the soccer team for that matter, the Greeks must stop looking to outside influences, and instead look at the assets it has available and the best ways to use them.


The Greeks must create their own path.


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