Members of the Greek national soccer team have turned down the bonus they were due for the 2014 World Cup, asking instead that their country use the money to build a national training center for them.
This week, all 23 members of the team signed a letter to Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras saying they would prefer to have a training center befitting of their team’s rising international status.
The letter read: “We do not want extra bonus, or money. We only play for Greece and its people. All we want is for you to support our effort to find a land and create a sports center that will house our National team.”
The Greek team has reached the World Cup round of 16, facing off against Costa Rica.
While Greece may be a long shot to win the 2014 World Cup, they are indeed a program on the rise. The turnaround has been sparked by Portuguese coach Fernando Santos, who led them to an unlikely win over Russia in the 2012 Euro Cup and a run to the quarterfinals.
As ESPN noted, the team has made great strides under Santos:
“This is an unprecedented success for the Greek national team. Under Rehhagel, the side failed to qualify for Germany 2006 and endured disastrous campaigns at Euro 2008 and South Africa 2010. Santos has brought consistency at the top level and made history at the World Cup, guiding the country out of the groups for the first time.”
“He has also gradually moulded Greece into a more progressive and adventurous side than it was under his predecessor. Admittedly the accomplishment is relative, but to have made this team slightly more entertaining — while delivering results — has required a tremendous balancing act: The attacking performance against the Ivory Coast (a 2-1 win) is a perfect example of his work.”
The act of selflessness on the part of the Greek national team isn’t the only player move to make headlines at the 2014 World Cup. The Ghana national team had its own kind of drama, with players threatening a strike when the country failed to come through on promised bonuses.
In the end, it took $3 million being shipped to Brazil for the Ghana team to take the field in their final match against Portugal, which, at the time, could have still put them through to the round of 16.
The Prime Minister has not officially responded to the Greek national soccer team’s request for a new training center.