For more than two years, Greek citizens have taken to the streets to protest the austerity measures insisted on by German Chancellor Angela Merkel as part of the economic bailouts offered to Greece. Such policies—which have included major cuts to the operating budgets of museums, archaeological sites and tourist attractions—have had a ruinous effect on the rich cultural heritage of the Mediterranean nation.
Merkel is scheduled to meet with the leaders of France, Spain and Italy on match day to discuss, among other things, future plans for economic relief efforts, before flying to Gdansk, Poland, to watch her nation’s pride square off against the Greeks.
While its downtrodden citizens face one of the worst economic crises in decades, the success of their Greek heroes on the pitch has been a bright spot in an otherwise gloomy 2012. With unemployment rates nearing 20%, a victory on Friday would prove to be a much needed respite for a Greek citizenry that has had little to cheer for in the recent past.