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The president of Greek-based soccer club South Melbourne FC, Leo Athanasakis, said Mr Vlahogiannis was a serial pest.
"These guys seem to be the common denominator in all of these incidents. They've got no credibility with anyone, especially the Greek community," he said.
And now a whole lot of argle-bargle has been started about this more or less true statement. Why did he say it, why say what he said, why say anything at all, why dob in your your own race, I'm tearing up my membership; all the usual and all too predictable comments have started flowing thick and fast. It's times like these when all the usual suspects come out to play, and yet when the time and opportunity is there to act or take up the challenges the club faces on a daily basis, it's never or seldom their turn, and after all, who has the time, or knows how to actually do things away from a keyboard? As evidenced recently in an unrelated incident (which, alas, is not for publication) everyone always seems to know better when they're not the ones faced with the responsibility of making the tough decisions, which more often than not whichever fork in the road you choose will get the bile going in our all too frequently emotionally combustible supporters.
Take a long deep breath.
Chris Vlahogiannis and some members of his posse are far from my favourite people in the cosmos. I don't know the bloke well enough, and he seems like a nice enough person, but he's got an ideology and a way of going about things that seriously clashes with my own strongly held beliefs. What went down at the tennis I don't know. I wasn't there and it's all second hand information that I'm getting. Perhaps he and the Hellas Fan Club are in the right this time. As far as I'm concerned that's for the law to decide, and for the Victoria Police and HFC to sort out amonsgt themselves.
Went out to the city to see if I could get Missing Link to get me The Autumns self-titled disc. They'll get back to me tomorrow.
But the stick Athanasakis has been copping is, in the main, uncalled for. The wording wasn't great, and he underestimates also the respect that Vlahogiannis has amongst some in the Greek community. But he was basically damned if he did and damned if he didn't. The mainstream media in this country is fairly lazy. Even before the President made his comments, the media were linking it to soccer and South. It's probably reasonable to say that the public in general were linking it to soccer and South. What's a guy to do? Obviously to say nothing or 'no comment' would seem like an admission of guilt to the media hounds. Saying what he did, in his vernacular style, probably didn't help, but at least he wasn't being defensive and negative. But ultimately a no nonsense, neutral toned press-release style statement like the one below would probably have done the trick
South Melbourne FC has nothing to do with what happened at the Australian Open tennis, and is disappointed that the media has linked us to this incident.
Chris Vlahogiannis, the leader of the Hellas Fan Club is not a member of South Melbourne FC.
All further queries should be directed to the Victoria Police and Hellas Fan Club. Have a nice day.
Pretty easy. Even easier in hindsight, especially for someone who's done Intro to Media Writing. Of course, you're never going to please everybody. And at South, unless you bring in the championship three years in a row, most people will always find truckloads of things to whinge about. What's done now is basically done, and the ramifications will play out over the coming days, weeks, months, and become another chapter in the typically over the top, never by halves history of this club. But for now at least, there's going to be a lot of showboating, grandstanding, frothing at the mouth, and higher than usual amount of random crap being spilled out. How long it goes for, and what the net effects of it will be remain to be seen.
But until it all subsides, and eventually one way or another it more or less will, the sane supporters on both sides of the issue (and there have been opposing statements made to Leo's comments that have been within the calm, reasonable part of the spectrum), this is just another one of those really stupid things the club will have to ride out. How many more of them the club can withstand is probably a good question, but I'm not going to panic. I saw a $12 million turnover student union go insolvent. This really is minor stuff, and the club itself has gone through worse. But the more pessimistic amongst us may not see it as just another thing to get over, but rather as part of the whole process of the club's decline. The sad things is, they may be right.