The full interview:
When and why did you decide to get involved in helping the refugees who are currently stranded at the Port of Piraeus?
“Olympiakos is always present and always giving to those in need. It is in in our club’s philosophy and ethos. Greece is going through a difficult economic crisis and Olympiakos has always been the first to stand on the side of the Greek people. Besides, Olympiakos is something more than just a football club. The recent events in the Middle East have forced people to leave their homes and seek safety for them and their families. Some of these people have found a temporary shelter at Piraeus port. The Piraeus region is home to Olympiakos. I felt it was our duty to provide for those people who cannot provide for themselves. We are giving whatever we are capable of. Seeing children and families suffering, is heartbreaking. It cannot leave you indifferent or passive.
On March the 4th we began with our initiative to provide the refugees in the port of Piraeus with meals as well as clothing which is especially important during this cold period. We serve on a daily basis thousands of meals which are prepared at the restaurant of Georgios Karaiskakis stadium (our home grounds), in addition to thousands of items of clothing like jackets, sweaters, trousers, hats, socks, footballs and toys for the children who also need a lot of emotional and psychological support. Up until now Olympiakos has offered over 60,000 meals and more than 110,000 items of clothing!”
The power of sport, the power of football is huge, we wonder if seeing the players of Olympiakos and having the chance to play football with them, is bringing almost as many smiles as food and clothing is?
“This is true! Last week our two captains, and two of our best and most popular players, Roberto and ‘Chori’ Dominguez were present in the port to help distribute food and clothes. The captains also played football with the children, hoping to put smiles on their faces again, and to forget, even temporarily, the struggles they are facing. Yesterday two more of our players Hernani and Seba also visited the refugees at the port and distributed over 3,000 meals and over 2,000 items of clothing. At this point I would like to stress how proud and thankful I am of all the staff, administration, players and volunteers of Olympiakos who are supporting this great effort, being there every day under difficult conditions and who despite our own domestic struggles as a nation, continue to help those in need without any discrimination.”
Bringing smiles to peoples’ faces and helping them out in their horrible situation they are in, is something remarkable. Are you also working on helping them in the longer term, to find places to go, to find a bigger resolution than so many just being at the Port?
“Of course this is something that concerns the Government, the European Union and the people in charge of finding together a permanent solution to the refugee crisis. I deeply hope that a solution is found for these people. From our part, we will continue to help with the goal to offer them half a million portions of food, or until a solution is found to their problems . We want to keep them, as happy and calm as possible, keep children busy and creative. Our effort to ease human pain and discomfort is ongoing. Olympiakos is making no discriminations.
For the past 6 years under my Presidency we have been helping thousands of Greek people from different parts of our country, who have been seriously affected by the financial crisis in Greece and are really struggling. We offer them food, clothing, medical assistance, we make regular donations and visits to schools, hospitals and to many other institutions and privateers who ask for our help. We are also particularly proud of our partnership with UNICEF. Olympiacos is the largest donor to UNICEF’s 100% Campaign in support of global immunization programs and since 2013 we have helped protect over one million babies! We will continue to offer what we can to those who need our help.
As our club’s moto states we keep on dreaming... not only of the future football successes of our team, but also of a better future for everyone!”