Even state president boris tadic now cheers on the serbian team at every game in the hall. "The fans want gold and they will get it", headlines the belgrade newspaper "press". "We will also perform a miracle in the semifinals," promises keel legionnaire and captain momir ilic in the newspaper "blic," and goalkeeper darko stanic adds: "in the arena, we are unbeatable!
The european handball championship is the talk of the town. People are cheering like seldom before. In any case, the sporting successes come just in time against the backdrop of economic and social misery. Because for years there have been practically only negative headlines. Corruption at every turn, record unemployment, rapid inflation, devaluation of the dinar, excessive public debt, ailing pension system, ruined companies.
To make matters worse, head of state tadic has told his citizens that they cannot hope for improvement in the foreseeable future. Those who can, therefore, go abroad. In surveys of students, two-thirds and more regularly state that they want to emigrate after graduation: germany, austria, scandinavia and the usa are the preferred destinations. And this for more than 25 years. Young, well-educated people are turning their backs on their homeland – at first only temporarily, but in the end usually for good.
The fact that the economy has not yet collapsed is mainly due to remittances from serbian guest workers, who sent home 5.5 billion dollars last year. But the call of politicians to come back to the old country and invest their knowledge and savings here is practically ignored. The investment conditions are a deterrent, it is argued.
Despite the bleak reality, politicians and the respected orthodox church preach the contrasting program to the people of burgundy: "think positively!"Should be the watchword. The young couples should have children in spite of everything, because serbia is dramatically losing population. Their home is, after all, the "lider" in the region, they say in modern serboenglish style. The church will not be tired of pointing out that the serbs are a "heavenly people" chosen by god.
Nationalism erupts again and again, especially in the sports environment. Serbian media reported on wednesday that hooligans attacked handball fans from croatia the day before on their way home from a european championship match. Nine people have been arrested and others are still being sought, the police reported. Serbian newspapers showed a picture of masked attackers presenting a croatian banner as a trophae.
In spite of everything: sporting serbia can dream now. But there are also mabigende voices. "People, stay on the ground, because it still takes a lot of sweat to win a medal," writes a viewer to belgrade television station B92 on wednesday. And his simple recipe for success: "bravery, clear head and that god gives us something".