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Mon Apr 21 04:05:47 SAST 2014

Payback for the 'malakas'

Carlos Amato | 19 June, 2012 06:360 Comments

IN MONTY Python's famous football match between Greek and German philosophers, Karl Marx came off the bench for Germany and was booked for dissent after Socrates netted the winner.

But you can bet your bottom euro that the ghost of Marx will be rooting for the Greeks during Friday's quarterfinal against Angie Merkel's boys.

Europe's most broke nation is anxious for some poetic revenge against their villainous creditors, the reigning champions of responsible late capitalism. It probably won't happen, but you never know.

National pride in tough times is a potent stimulant - and the Greeks will approach the game in the spirit of renowned video blogger Mr Panos, who recently opened a post with these immortal words: "Hello Germany and Europe. This is a message from the Hellenic people around the world: F*** YOU, MALAKA!"*

Oom Karl Marx had a few malaka moments himself, but he'd be laughing his beard off at Europe's incompetent handling of its debt crisis. How rational or responsible is a financial system that victimises indebted countries by charging them higher interest rates, thus driving them deeper into debt and preventing the very growth required to balance the books? These austerity policies are a bit like firefighting with a petrol pump.

One thing's for sure: this German team don't play austere football. And they're doing a decent job as poster boys for multicultural cool.

The neo-Nazis of eastern Europe must be seething with rage at this team, as it is liberally spiced with players of immigrant Turkish, Polish, Ghanaian, Spanish and Tunisian descent.

With any luck, all the pasty kids prowling the mean streets of Moscow, Kiev and Warsaw will compare the technicolour Krauts with the mediocre, ethnically pure teams of Poland and Russia, and draw the natural conclusion that ethnic purity is a losers' game.

Sadly, they probably won't. Football can only do so much, and it has a rotten record when it comes to actively fighting bigotry. More often the game has sheltered and legitimised the bigots by providing a convenient, emotive stage for the theatre of hatred.

And let's face it: any kind of nationalism (or any tribal loyalty to a club) is a fundamentally stupid emotion, however much it satisfies a human need to belong. Racism is simply the malignant shadow of nationalism.

Kudos to Croatia coach Slaven Bilic for raging against the racist malakas among his team's supporters who directed monkey chants at Mario Balotelli. Too few players and coaches from the problem countries in southern and eastern Europe have spoken out strongly enough.

Not that there's much cause for South Africans to offer sanctimonious condemnation of east European racism. Like every country on earth, we are blessed with an abundance of malakas. And we can't export them.

Malaka (noun): w**ker or idiot in Greek slang

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