For the last two years, I haven’t been an avid football fan. Yeah, weird confession for a sports writer, I know, but that’s the way it is. In Turkey, football has pretty much always been bundled with politics, corruption and any other kind of monkey business you could ever think of. However, with the match-fixing operation of 2011, which by the way was purely political and emptied the content of something desired (a clean football) like in many other cases (for example, the junta leaders of 1980 being put on trial) and turned into a massive political vendetta aggravating the ever and omni-present social trauma in our society. Now, nobody believes in a clean football environment, the last attempt was so nerve-wrecking, nobody wants anyone to try to mess with that shit ever again. Football is now in a love-it-or-leave it situation here. I decided to leave it. It’s not really worth it, even when you cover it professionally. As it’s always said here in Turkey, you can always sell lemons in the farmer’s market instead.
My disillusionment towards football, admittedly, cut some strong threads off between me and a relatively happy life. I can say very frankly that I was far happier when I was a football fan. However, shit happens and when it happens it does hit the fan. Therefore, I won’t be able to, or willing to comment on the recent nonsense going on around AEK; such as the Panthrakikos match incident, the feud with NOVA, EPO etc. We all know Greek football is more-or-less into the same shit with Turkish football, maybe with less state involvement and more businessmen meddling. Shit is shit though (I hope nobody’s counting how many ?shit?s have featured in this piece, I never promised you a rose garden anyway). I also don’t believe it’s a local phenomenon. Since the late 1970’s, fat cats are trying to milk football to the extent of extortion, and when Premier League was founded after a series of Thatcherite conspiracies, the first nail was rammed into the coffin of football we know. As Reagan and Thatcher fucked up the different parts of the world in diverse magnitudes with their neo-liberal shit, football was doomed as well. Since the 1990’s, what we are watching is a circus. At first, it appeared like classy stuff, Cirque du Soleil or something, now we can see the misery of Prozaced clowns and suicidal monkeys. It’s past the time to despise the circus owner.
Happily, AEK means much more than a football club to me, otherwise this article would be a whole page of aforementioned ?shit?s. Yes, I know it’s heart breaking to see the club in a miserable situation, it should be really hard to take all the mocking and bullshit in the chin. However, life’s life and it sometimes deals really bad hands to you. Who knows what would happen if this or that goal was scored in any given game and we could grab a title in process, like three-four years ago? Or some wise guy would see Alpha Digital going crazy years ago and block the broadcasting deal to save many asses all at once? Or we wouldn’t demolish the temple and we could still play our games in that old-fashioned, small but cozy field instead of overpriced, cold, Olympic carcass? In a scale of best and worst, AEK consistently picked the worst cards. It was bound to happen and it happened. You can’t really go ?I wish? about that. It has no use.
So instead of ?I wish?es, I will tell you another story. AEK is not a club of achieving (even though we had some really good times), it’s a club of survival. Cups and titles and expensive players can be the reason of existence of some clubs, say like Olympiakos. For AEK, it’s not that. AEK exists to inspire, to persevere and to survive. It’s a symbol of what human beings can hold out against, even in the worst conditions. It’s the rickety ferry traveling one coast of the Aegean to the other, for a new life with hardships and hopes. To be AEK is to be able to say ?life goes on.? It’s to build everything from scratch, if it comes to that point. You can’t and shouldn’t reduce that into a plain sports club, never.
AEK is an inspiration, it’s the Mandela of sports clubs. And you can never give up inspiring just because you’re down. Especially when your whole legacy tells you otherwise.