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But there are just 11 million Greeks, their deep recession is in its fifth year, and their soccer is not as financially healthy. The Greek league’s last season began in disarray, with two teams demoted because of their owners’ involvement in a match-fixing scandal and another relegated because of unpaid debts. So, in that respect, too, this outcome at the Arena Gdansk made sense.

If it reaches the final, Germany could end up meeting another country with financial difficulties _ either Portugal or perhaps Spain.

Soccer, of course, is just a game. But because of the financial politics surrounding Euro 2012 match-ups, it’s starting to feel much more important than that.


John Leicester is an international sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at jleicester(at) or follow him at