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The World Cup is not just a battle between nations to determine who is the strongest in the world. It is also a momentous celebration of international exchange and an opportunity for citizens of the world to display their national pride. Heart-wrenching and heartwarming stories alike are born from the event, which remain in people’s minds long after the final score has been forgotten. Some of the most memorable stories from the tournament don’t even take place on the pitch during gameplay; rather, they materialize in other acts of chivalry off the field.

Although Greece was defeated by Costa Rica on Sunday, Greek citizens couldn’t have been prouder to see their national team advance to the Round of 16 for the first time ever. The Greek athletes also seemed content just having served as representatives for their home country, as they incredibly refused individual monetary bonuses and instead asked for a joint venture that should further unite them in spirit with their fellow countrymen.

You would probably think that the players of the Greek national team are just about now looking forward to some large monetary bonuses for their groundbreaking achievements in the World Cup. Despite an initial loss to Colombia, the team battled onward to subsequently tie with Japan and triumph over Côte d’Ivoire, paving the way for them to advance out of the group stage for the first time ever.

But according to the Greek news site newsbomb, those same players opted to give up individual fat paychecks in exchange for something else that should help bring the entire nation together in spirit. Various news agencies around the world, including the Japanese media, were quick to pick up on the story, with citizens of all nationalities praising the modest actions of the team. The players’ refusal to cash in on their success on the pitch becomes even more impressive in light of other national teams currently being embroiled in fights regarding their own bonuses.

As for what the team requested instead, they hope to build a national training center so they can further hone their skills and proudly represent their country in future international tournaments again. It was reported that a letter with the signatures of all 23 members of the national team was sent to Antonis Samaras, the Prime Minister of Greece. Enclosed was their simple request:

“We do not wish for any additional money or a bonus. We are just playing for Greece, and for all the citizens of Greece. What we wish for is support in our efforts to find a site and build a sports center for our national football team.”

This letter symbolizes the true spirit of the World Cup, and how the tournament should ultimately be a time for the citizens of a particular country to bond through a shared love of football. We wish the Greek team the best of luck in their new endeavor!

Source: Yahoo! Japan: Sportsnavi
Image: RocketNews24