Evangelos Marinakis, owner of the Olympaicos Football club has done a large amount of philanthropic work both privately and publicly making a significant impact on many people’s lives.
Marinakis has provided 10 years’ worth of funding from 2014 to a museum that is dedicated to famous Greek author Nikos Kazantzakis and contributes 80, 000 Euros per year. The museum (a non-state funded organization) is based on the island of Crete. Marinakis, a big fan of the writer’s work, in fact saved the museum from imminent closure during the Greek economic crisis and has since been financing all ongoing operating costs.
Marinakis has paid for the creation of an Alexander Ypsilantis bust statue in Athens as well as for the 200-year celebrations of the foundation of the Filiki Etairia. Ypsilantis was leader of the Filiki Etairia (also known as the Society of Friends)- a secret organization that sought independence from the Ottoman Empire and the establishment of an independent Greek state. Most of the original members were Phanariot Greeks from Istanbul in Turkey (formerly known as Constantinople and before that Byzantium).
Marinakis has supported Greek children’s charities such as Argo and ‘Together for Children’ which are among the 10 Greek NGOs who offer a large amount of social support.
Marinakis has made a special effort to improve conditions for the disabled. ‘Together in Life – Together in Olympiacos!’ is another project in which children with cognitive disabilities from the Special Schools of Piraeus are given the chance to train at the Academy of Olympiacos. The children can also participate and watch games at the stadium. This is done with the involvement of Administration of the Academy and the Schools of Olympiacos’.
The project has been put forward as an example of European Best Practice in Ulster University’s ‘The Engagement of Disabled People in European Football’ where it discusses the corporate social responsibility (CSR). Mariankis who has been behind this effort, is a big advocate for social change and the fight against discrimination.
This team was never branded as a ‘disability team’ but rather “the new team of the academy” and focuses on their athletic ability. The Olympiacos home ground stadium has made it as accessible as possible for people with disabilities by creating wheel chair friendly zones and modified bathrooms. People with disabilities can also attend games for free. The facility also has disability access parking made available to them by using a dedicated phone line to register.
Through Olympiacos Marinakis has contributed to the fund of Genesios Theotokos which was used to give daily meals to thousands of people in Athens.
In March 2016 he donated money to starving refugees stranded on the Port of Piraeus. In a recent interview, Marinakis explained what motivated him to do this. He expressed great sorrow for the thousands of families who had to leave their homes throughout the Middle East. “I felt it was our duty to provide for those people who cannot provide for themselves. We are giving whatever we are capable of. Seeing children and families suffering, is heartbreaking. It cannot leave you indifferent or passive”. He also expressed that club Olympiacos (the football club that he owns) is more than just a football club, but also an organization with a social responsibility.
Daily hot meals and clothes were provided to those stranded at the Port of Pireaus. This was extremely helpful, especially during the cold weather. The meals were served at Olympiacos’ restaurant on the grounds of the Georgios Karaiskakis Stadium. Footballs and toys were also given to the children in need of emotional and psychological support. Captains and players from Olympiacos helped distribute the supplies. Football games for the kids were also organized which helped lift their spirits, even if it was just temporarily.
After the earthquake of Cephonia, Marinakis donated 500,000 Euros for the reparation and rebuilding of schools.
Marinakis has worked with UNICEF to immunize children in developing countries, Olympiacos players have the UNICEF logo on their kit hoped to raise 2 million Euros in 2 years. The purpose of working with UNICEF was to “end preventable deaths of newborns and ensure that every child has the necessary nutrition and health care to grow and develop.” Marinakis has supported the charity since 2013 through Olympiacos and has made several contributions to UNICEF. The purpose of the project is to immunize children in areas of poverty, conflict, poor infrastructure and weak governance. Marinakis and his Olympiacos club have immunized thousands of children from diseases such as; measles, tetanus, tuberculosis and polio.
Marinakis has contributed towards the Greece Debt Free NGO by repurchasing Greek national debt.
Marinakis has contributed to various pediatric clinics in Athens and Limassol, blood donation campaigns and children’s charities, some of which include the Steven Gerrard Foundation, the Hatzikyriakos Foundation, Elpida. He is also currently forming an Olympiacos charity foundation. The Steven Gerrard Foundation was supported by Marinakis in 2013 after a friendly match at Anfield between Olympiacos and Liverpool. The Steven Gerrard Foundation supports disadvantaged children who have had exposure to various diseases. Marinakis donated £100,000 to the foundation. Gerrard himself Marinakis for his donation.
Olympiacos are setting up their own foundation, Marinakis however, still finds the time and money to help others. After the match Marinakis said, “it shows yet again how the world of football can work together to build a bright future for the children and young people of our society.”
In 2017 Marinakis met with the Association of Friends of Children with Cancer- ELPIDA (hope in Greek). Marinakis and the entire football squad and coaching staff attended the Children’s Oncology Unit “Marianna V. Vardinogiannis – ELPIDA”. There they offered the financial and moral support to help children in need. By doing this they helped keep the hope alive for the children and their families. Marinakis presented Mrs. Marianna Vardinogiannis with an envelope that contained a donation of some tens of thousands of euros to help towards ELPIDA.
Marinkas and his team Olympiacos FC were offered an honorary plaque. Marinakis stated, “I am very happy that our team is here standing by the “ELPIDA” Association and Mrs. Vardinoyannis, for the 7th consecutive year. It gives us great pleasure to offer happiness to the children who are battling for their lives and to support your sacred cause.” The extremely grateful Mrs Vardinoyannis replied, thanking him for the time he had given them and said “this is the human face of sport that sends messages of solidarity throughout our society.”
Marinakis funded two years of academic study from 2015 – 2017 to The International Olympic Academy, financing 60 student’s tuition costs. Clearly sport is something Marinakis is passionate about. He wanted students to be well qualified in this area too.
In 2017 there was a Harvard University Athens Conference called ‘Reinforcing, Crossing, and Transcending Borders: Soccer in a Globalized World’. The conference focused on football clubs taking on a social responsibility towards communities, particularly on refugees in Europe. The goal, being the implementation sport and its activities for the purpose of social inclusion and integration. Marinakis spoke of democracy being ‘’based on social justice, when all laws and regulations apply for everyone.’ Later Marinakis suggested that football “can cross borders, overcome ancient enmity and bring millions of people around the world together. In particular, we will see just how much the opportunity to play or watch sport can mean to refugees and displaced people.” He established 12 principles called ‘The Athens Principles on the Right to Participate in Sport’.