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Germany soccer coach to sweet-talk Greeks
Photo: DPA

Germany soccer coach to sweet-talk Greeks

Published: 28 Mar 2013 07:09 GMT+01:00
Updated: 28 Mar 2013 07:09 GMT+01:00

Germany has enlisted the help of popular football coach Otto Rehhagel – who led Greece to victory at the Euro 2004 – in a charm offensive on Athens aimed at improving frayed ties between the two countries.

Many Greeks hold Germany responsible for the harsh austerity measures imposed since the onset of the economic crisis in 2010, while some Germans have expressed resentment over the Greek bailouts, causing tensions between the two nations.

Rehhagel – reportedly hand-picked by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who believes his personality and popularity in Greece can help improve Germany's image – is part of a special team which arrived in Athens this week.

On Tuesday, he met Greek Tourism Minister Olga Kefalogianni, the ministry said in a statement.

The 74-year-old was also given an award for his contribution to Greek sports, state broadcaster NET reported.

"We [Germany and Greece] are connected by friendship and a common culture," he told journalists before attending a friendly football match.

"Whatever happens, Greeks will remain our friends. We have to help countries that are down on their luck," he added.

Rehhagel told German daily Bild earlier this month that he knew his name was "very positively portrayed in Greece."

"After all, we won the Euro 2004 and nobody thought it possible. So it is with pleasure that I will go to encourage my friends in Greece," he was quoted as saying.

AFP/mb

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

09:05 March 28, 2013 by Bigfoot76
Greece is entitled to its opinion but I am more from the school of thought that you never bite the hand that feeds you.

On a different note however, this will reflect poorly either on Greece or on Merkel depending on if it works or not. If this ploy works it shows the Greeks to be simple minded people who do not actually care about their values and beliefs, if it does not work then it shows that Angela Merkel THOUGHT that the Greeks were simple minded and that they do not really care about their values and beliefs. Someone is going to look bad either way.
10:20 March 28, 2013 by KarOTTO
Loud message to the lazy Greeks: You can only succeed if you are coached by Germany. The good news for the Greeks (and apparently for the German taxpayers who pay the bills) is that, in order to take his messenger role, Mr Rehhagel had to pay his 40,000 euro income tax debt to Greece owed since the times he was offering his service to Greek National Football team.
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