I am sure that most of you guys watch sports, and probably support a specific club. You may even be a regular attendant of the team’s arena like me, and support the players with your voice and chanting. Today, since most sports have turned fully professional, most clubs have a strong and wealthy owner that pumps money into the club’s coffers regularly, bringing in new players and striving to make the team better. Sometimes, he or she does it because of a long-held passion for the club, just like a simple fan would dream of. But to break this bubble, in most cases his or her financial, bussiness or political interests are the ulterior motive hide beneath the involvement with the club. So, why support not only the club but also its owner?
To give an example of the support i’m talking about, recently during a Greek Superleague fixture between AEK Athens, the club I personally support, and PAOK Thessaloniki, Northern Greece’s most supported club, there was a shocking event. The match was for many a title decider, between the first and second team in the league standings, played in Toumba, home of PAOK. In the 90th minute, PAOK scored in a highly ambiguous manner, and after originally counting the goal, the referee decided to overturn his decision and call offside. Then Ivan Savvidis, a Russian billionaire with bussines interests in Greece and the owner of PAOK, stormed the pitch with his personal guard and at first ordered the team to go to the locker rooms. He switched his target then and moved at first towards the referee, and after towards AEK’s bench. But the most worrying part is that he did all that with a gun in his backpocket(as pictured below), for which according to the videos tried to reach! You probably expect that the only reaction to this would be heavy criticism, right? Well, to some in Thessaloniki he is a hero and they support him with passion. Also, Vangelis Marinakis, the owner of Greece’s biggest club, Olympiacos, has been involved in numerous scandals, ranging from match fixing to most importantly heroin trafficking. But again, a big portion of the club’s fans support him and claim that he is wrongly fought by a system that tries to beat him. And not to leave my club out of the conversation, AEK’s owner, Dimitris Melissanidis, a shipping magnate, has been accused of oil trafficking and attacks towards football officials. Sometimes, in the fan’s head, the line between defending your team and defending your owner becomes blurred.
But the owner isn’t the whole team that you’ve supported for years. You are not going to pass on to your children the love for him, but for the team, the joy of going to the stadium and chanting for the squad. A team can survive through the years and persevere, even in difficult times and financial hardships. Ask yourselves, would you support someone that commited crimes like the examples given above? The answer is probably not. Supporting your club doesn’t mean supporting the owner, and not supporting the owner doesn’t mean that you don’t love your club!