European Debt Crisis

What’s up, Europe? Germany vs. Greece in soccer match

Kai Ryssdal Jun 21, 2012
European Debt Crisis

What’s up, Europe? Germany vs. Greece in soccer match

Kai Ryssdal Jun 21, 2012

Kai Ryssdal: The European debt crisis is, to a certain extent, Germany versus Greece. As it happens, there’s an arguably bigger match-up between the two tomorrow. They’ll meet in the quarterfinals of the European Football Championship. Irony, and global economics, all wrapped up in one. Today, Joseph DeWeck from Bloomberg. He’s in Frankfurt. And John Psarapolous in Athens. He writes for the New Athenian Magazine. Gentlemen, welcome.

John Psarapolous: Thank you.

Joseph de Weck: Good to be here.

Ryssdal: So John, let me ask you the first question. What’s more in the headlines today: the economy or football/soccer?

Psarapolous: Well today it’s mostly about politics, the formation of the new government, which was just named this evening.

Ryssdal: No football at all, really?

Psarapolous: No, football is very much in people’s minds. If you talk to anyone about the Greece-Germany match everyone has an opinion. But the general consensus is that Germany’s a superior team. We are, in many ways, lucky/intimidated to be playing them. Some people say that we don’t stand a chance, it will be for nil. And some people say that if the Germans rub us up the wrong way, we might play extremely well and even win this perhaps.

Ryssdal: Joseph DeWeck in Frankfurt, do you buy that at all?

DeWeck: I’m not quite so sure about it, but we’ll see what happens on Friday. But to be honest, tomorrow’s game has not made it to the front pages of the German newspapers today. The hot topic has been Greece, nevertheless. It has been Spain and Europe’s sovereign debt crisis. There is one exception. There is the Bild Zeitung, Germany’s biggets tabloid, who wrote an article on the hotel the Greek players are staying in, in Poland. And the paper praises the Greeks with a slightly cynical tone for having only chosen a four-star hotel, which charges only 93 euros per night.

Ryssdal: Wasn’t there some cartoon over there that showed the Greek players with their jerseys sponsored by Germany or something?

DeWeck: The Greek jerseys are sponsored by Adidas, which is a German company. And it is true that some have made the comment that Greece is playing against its biggest sponsor tomorrow.

Psarapolous: That’s not really so much the quibble that’s being seen. More, I think the match is viewed as a way for Greek-German tensions to play out, at least in people’s imaginations.

Ryssdal: All right, so Joseph, put your money where your mouth is. Who’s going to win? Seriously?

DeWeck: Well, ooh, that’s a difficult question. If you look at it through the prism of justice there are two responses. The just result would probably be if the best team wins. The Germans have been doing well. If you take into account the macro-economic picture, it would probably be good if the Greeks win because their economy really needs a boost and victory against Germany might do it.

Ryssdal: All right John, same question to you, quickly.

Psarapolous: I think that’s very generous of Joseph, emotionally. I think that clearly, as somebody put it to me, let me put it this way: Greece can only win. If Greece wins the match, of course, it’s a triumph. If Greece loses the match, it loses to an adversary that it can be proud to lose to, but also that it is beholden to in many emotional and political ways.

Ryssdal: John Psarapolous in Athens. Joseph DeWeck for Bloomberg in Frankfurt, Germany. Guys, thanks a lot. Enjoy the game.

DeWeck: Thank you.

Psarapolous: My pleasure.

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