soccer

details of interview

Role of the Interviewed: professional football player

Age: 28

Gender: male

Nationality: Greek

Type of radicalization: political radicalization

Historical period collocation: 2016

Date/Country of the Interview: 20/09/2018, Greece

Interviewer: KEAN – Cell of Alternative Youth Activities

KEAN

Have you witnessed or experienced personal situations of radicalization during your activity in sport organizations? What kind of radicalizations have you detected? (Gender, politics, religion, racism, crime, homophobia…)

player

I am a football player and I am playing in Gamma Ethniki (C National Amateur Division) which is a National Amateur Category - the 3rd highest football league in Greece.

I would like to narrate a story to you that I witnessed about 2 years ago and is related to political radicalization. I have been in quite some teams until today and during this year I moved and joined another team.

Telling your story. What has happened? How has the story started?

My story concerns one of my teammates from the previous team in which I was playing for. We were at the same age and in the beginning we were spending a lot of time together not only during the training sessions but also after them. He always wanted to know and understand everything around him, about society but also humanity and he was searching through web, reading and discussing about social and political issues. At some point, I also realized through our conversations that he was coming from a nationalist family.
Over time, he started to express a lot of enthusiasm about fascist movements and he was saying things like “People are killing the ideal of a free & strong nation”, “Our nation is unique, precious and superior, that is why we should fight for it and protect it”, etc.
Gradually, he started being verbally violent towards others and especially towards people with different national backgrounds and people who were strongly disagreeing with his extreme points of view.
When he understood that I was also not sharing his views he stopped hanging around with me and the following period I noticed that almost none of his old friends was associating with him and only a few of our teammates were hanging out with him. Instead he had found new friends that seemed to have common opinions and perspectives.

How did you realize what was going on? What kind of signals could you detect? How do you explain radicalization, referring to your experience?

At first place, I started realizing what was going on when he stopped searching and reading and started insisting on “Fighting for the protection of our unique nation” and thereafter when he separated himself from everybody else, including teammates, friends and family.
As far as I am concerned, I believe that radicalization occurs when someone expresses and adopts increasingly extreme social, political or religious beliefs and ideals leading to violence, terrorism or extremism.
The truth is that I believe that this story spots early signs of radicalization but I do not consider myself expert in this and I do not know pretty much about the phenomenon of radicalization.

Have you tried to cope with this situation? What was possible to do? What have you done? Have you involved other people/organizations? Who was involved?

The way in which I tried to cope with this situation was by talking to him and trying to shift his mindset but unfortunately he cut me off.

Did you feel you had the skills to manage this kind of situations? Which was the most difficult part of it? Have you had any form of support?

I think that I do not have the skills to handle a situation, a case like this one. The rest of our teammates also tried but with no success.

End of the story. How did the story end up? What have you learned from this personal experience? What would you say to people who are living similar situations?

Unfortunately, I do not know the end of this story or what he is doing today since I have changed team and I had lost contact since then.

political radicalization behavior