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Greece: World Cup-Mania Provides Respite from Financial Crisis

Despite the dire financial crisis unfolding in Greece, many Greeks have taken to the ‘social media World Cup‘ with gusto – perhaps hoping for a repeat of the amazing and uplifting victory in the Euro 2004 championship rather than a rehash of the national team's abysmal performance at the 1994 World Cup at the feet of Argentina and Nigeria.

Wishing good luck to the Greek national team, blogger Roides guiltlessly and poetically proclaimed:

Το Μουντιάλ παραμένει γιορτή των αισθήσεων, του πάθους. Αγαπώ τη μπάλα, έπαιξα σε αλάνες και σε γήπεδα, μάτωσα παθιάστηκα ίδρωσα έκλαψα και γέλασα. Οι πρώτες αγάπες, οι μεγάλες, δεν ξεχνιούνται.

Παρόλη την ακραία εμπορευματοποίηση, το ποδόσφαιρο συνεχίζει να κουβαλά εκείνο το άλλο, το μυστήριο της μαγείας, μια ευφάνταστη ντρίμπλα σε ανύποπτο χρόνο είναι αρκετή να αποφόρτιση θετικά όλο σου το είναι, όλα μεμιάς ξεχνιούνται, χρέη, υποχρεώσεις, άγχη –όλα στον καιάδα.

Ποιος να ξέρει, ίσως τα ανήσυχα πνεύματα των μεγάλων Πορτογάλων θαλασσοπόρων του Ντα Γκάμα, του Ντιάζ, εκεί στο ιστορικό Algoa Bay, με τα βουβά  θαλάσσια ρεύματα, στην πόλη των ανέμων, μας επιφυλάσσουν συγκινήσεις.

The World Cup remains the celebration of senses, of passion. I love football, I've played in alleys and fields, I bled, got passionate, sweated, cried and laughed. First loves, the big ones, cannot be forgotten. Despite rampant commercialism, football continues to convey that other, the mystery of magic. An imaginative dribble that catches you unawares is enough to positively discharge your whole being, everything is at once forgotten: debts, obligations, anxieties -everything down the drain.

Who knows, maybe the restless spirits of the great Portuguese seafarers, Da Gama and Diaz, there at historic Algoa Bay, with it's mute sea currents, city of the winds, portend thrills for us.

Twitter is naturally dominated by talk of the World Cup these days, especially during the games, when dozens of users take to commenting the games with instant fervor. AntidraSports, quipped on the mostly ballistic USA – England game:

Τυχεροί οι θεατές των άνω διαζωμάτων. Το μεγαλύτερο μέρος του ματς, παίζεται στο ύψος τους. (όσο πιο ψηλά, τόσο πιο καλά).

Upper quadrant fans are lucky; most of the game is played on their level (the higher, the better)

World Cup and politics go together like football and beer, of course. Constantinos Alexacos wryly commented:

Αργεντινή Ελλάδα, διαιτητής θα παίξει ο Στρος Κααν

The Argentina Greece game will be refereed by [IMF managing director] Stauss-Kahn

On Twitter, team name “hashflags” that make national flag icons appear in tweets, and the #worldcup hashtag that shows a little football, became an instant hit, even with non-fans. Nikos Fotakis admitted:

δεν μ’ ενδιαφέρει το μουντιάλ, αλλά μου αρέσει αυτή η σαχλαμαρίτσα με την μπαλίτσα #outofyourculticloset #sucker #worldcup

I don't care about the World Cup, but I like the silly little ball thingy #outofyourculticloset #sucker #worldcup

Vivian Efthimiopoulou tried the obvious: “Come on little ball! Out with you! #worldcup”

The vuvuzela, a South African favorite noisemaker whose sound dominates games in the World Cup, also dominated conversations in the Greek Twittersphere. Most just hated it, despite there being similar Greek instruments, sometimes employed in stadiums. Stavros Papadakis described their sound with a literary simile from Tolkien's Lord of the Rings,

λες και παίζουν στους βάλτους με τα κουνούπια στη Gorgoroth!

it's as if they're playing in the mosquito swamps of Gorgoroth!

Even animals were apparently affected. Anastasia Kamvissi protested that:

Οι γάτες μου, έξαλλες με τις βουβουζέλες, θέλουν να φάνε την τηλεόραση

My cats are incensed at the vuvuzelas,  they want to eat the TV set

Nikos Anagnostou mused on the linguistic roots of the word:

Αυτό το -ζέλα στο βουβουζέλα πρέπει να έχει μουσική σημασία. Μου θυμίζει τον ΜουφλουΖΕΛΗ (ρεμπέτης) και τον ΚουκουΖΕΛΗ (βυζαντ. υμνογράφος)

That -zela in vouvouzela must have a musical significance. It reminds me of Mouflouzelis (rembetiko musician) and Koukouzelis (byzantine hymn writer)

On the day of the Greek national team‘s first match with South Korea, June 12,  fans were jubilant. As political tensions between the two Koreas were flaring, xtsanos teasingly cheered the team on,

Πάμε ρε Ελλαδάρα! Κάνε χαρούμενο τον Κιμ-Γιονγκ Ιλ :-P #gre #wc10gr

Go Greece! Make Kim Jong-Il happy :-p #gre #wc10gr

But the Greek team probably didn't make the North Korean leader happy. It was generally agreed they played a wretched game. Eric Parks summed up the first half of the game:

We're behind, ref denied Koreans a clear penalty & they had the best chance so far. Ah, I can smell the summer of 94′ already #worldcup  #gre

XML guru Tim Bray wondered,

So is #kor really as great as they're looking, or is #gre just having a really bad day? #worldcup

… to which software developer Vassilis Rizopoulos replied:

@timbray #kor are good enough, but #gre is not really having a bad day…it's their normal state. '04 was a fluke #worldcup

The World Cup even brought legendary blogs out of hiatus. Yorgos Panzaris reassessed his predictions made 4 years ago on Reality Tape,

Φυσικά έπεσα έξω σχεδόν σε όλα τα τολμηρά — τέσσερα χρόνια μοιάζουν πάρα πολλά την επομένη του τελικού, ελάχιστα σήμερα

Of course, my guess was off on all the daring bets – 4 years seem quite a lot on the next day of the final, but only a few today

Dribble & Drink, a collective blog for humorous football punditry created during the last World Cup was also resurrected. A contributor nicknamed The Grass waxes lyrically on the supposedly mythological significance of low play:

Είναι ίσως γραφτό σε μια εποχή που η ανθρωπότητα παρακμάζει αναζητώντας αξίες και πρότυπα, το πρώτο mundial στην Αφρικανική ήπειρο – εκεί που άρχισαν όλα – να σημαδευτεί από την θριαμβευτική επιστροφή στις ρίζες [..] Το ποδόσφαιρο κατοχής της σφαίρας και διατήρησης της ιερής σχέσης που έχει αυτή με το γκαζόν

In an era when a declining humanity seeks values and role-models, maybe it's fated for the first World Cup in the African continent -where everything began- to perform a triumphant return to football's roots [..] To ball possession and the preservation of it's sacred relation to the grass

Not everyone was happy with the attention garnered by the World Cup, however. Eleftheria Katsianou openly warned about the football “war of the sexes”,

Όσο οι αντρες θα βλέπουν μπαλα για ένα μηνα, οι γυναίκες θα “παίζουν” μπάλα ελεύθερα. Thank u #mundial

As long as men will be watching football for a month, women will be free to “play ball”. Thank u #mundial

Arkoudos poignantly commented on the political aspect of the whole globe turning it's gaze to spectator sports for a month with a new “issue” of his faux-magazine, Point of View. The caption on the cover reads: “Come on kid, don't pretend you don't understand. It's the World Cup.”

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