Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Update on Demonstrations -- Still Safe and Sound!

As the guys go to bed tonight, Athens is again dominating world news. The European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund are awaiting votes in the Greek Parliament tomorrow and Thursday before they agree to loan the country enough money to pay its bills. Otherwise, the country will default and the foreign investment which is currently propping up a weak economy will entirely collapse. Still, many Greeks oppose the stern measures required by international banks before they give the loans. These measures include raising the retirement age, cutting state pensions and salaries, and privatizing many government services. As a result, demonstrations and protests have accompanied the general strike organized in opposition to those "austerity measures." The demonstrations today were more violent than previous ones, with large numbers of police called into action and tear gas released on protestors.

However, please note that these disturbances are entirely contained within the area around the Greek Parliament building in downtown Athens. This site is about 30 minutes away from the soccer complex, and over an hour from the team's hotel. So far, the only affect on the team has been unpredictable lunch times, as the strike shut down transportation and demonstrations further delayed the arrival of the athletes' lunch food to the soccer complex. Considering the slim contents of this lunch, we didn't miss much! And certainly the event has done nothing to quell the excitement in the team camp ahead of tomorrow's match against Austria.

For the latest, see the BBC report. But rest easy. We are.

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