young soccers

details of interview

Role of the Interviewed: amateur football player

Age: 41

Gender: male

Nationality: Greek

Type of radicalization: ethnic discrimination

Historical period collocation: 2016-2018

Date/Country of the Interview: 28/09/2018, 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 41 years old and I remember myself playing a lot of football from a very young age and since I was 20 years old until today I am playing in amateur teams and sport clubs. During all these years I had experienced different kind of incidents mostly with supporters playing a leading role and mainly when they were becoming passionate during our matches.
I am not totally aware of radicalization, how to identify signs and how to contribute to the prevention of the phenomenon, but during the 2 last years I am witnessing situations which from my personal point of view and experience may be the start of radicalization.

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

As we all know, during the last years Greece experienced huge refugee flows and a lot of these people were granted international protection and chose to live in Greece. They are trying to learn and get used to our habits, our culture and our daily routine and become part of our society but by also keeping their own culture and practicing their own customs; And this is proper and effective social integration and not forced assimilation.

Hence, they are also participating in sports teams and sport clubs. However, they are facing several discriminatory behaviours and incidents almost on a daily basis. In our team, we also have people coming from Afghanistan and Pakistan who a lot of times have become recipients of verbal aggression and discriminatory behaviours, including comments about their nationality and their religion. Most of the time they are isolated even by teammates

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

I have noticed that a lot of times, such as for instance during the breaks or after the training sessions or even the matches, they are only hanging with their peers and choose to sit in a different place, more isolated.

I do not know much about radicalisation, thus I cannot precisely explain radicalization but counting on my previous knowledge and experience these incidents could lead to violent behaviours and acts of fanaticism, extremism and terrorism.

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?

I approached our coach and talked with him about the situation and the existing conditions and together we were thinking about possible ideas and ways to create a common spirit and unite the whole team.

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?

Unfortunately, neither I nor our coaches have been prepared to face and overcome such cases and the hardest part is to restore the balance and reunite our team as among the values of all sports in general are cooperation, teamwork and team spirit.

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?

Our coach tried to approach individually each player and have a discussion and introduced some brief intercultural activities and games for adults. However, slight progress has been achieved as there are still deep-rooted discriminatory beliefs.

face isolation with sport