By Graham Wood
Greece are hopeful of avoiding FIFA and UEFA bans from international and European football competitions over a proposed new sports law, the country’s Football Federation (EPO) chief George Gkirtzikis said on Wednesday.
Greece were warned that they could face a suspension over government interference if the sports law was voted in.
But after emerging from talks between Stavros Kontonis, Deputy Minister for Education, Culture and Religious Affairs, and UEFA general secretary Gianni Infantino, Gkirtzikis indicated a compromise over the law had been reached.
“During the meeting our understanding is that the state will make some changes, which both federations are awaiting,” he told reporters.
“The law has been deferred to be discussed next Wednesday and Thursday (instead of Monday and Tuesday). We serve football and no one wants to be excluded from international competitions.
“Mr Infantino came to give some useful advice in order to avoid a (ban) and examine the text which will be submitted to a vote in Parliament.
“I hope what has been discussed will be signed off and I expect it to be. Every summer we make changes in the statutes of FIFA and UEFA in order for everyone to be aligned.”
Following continuous problems with crowd trouble, the government has put together a new set of regulations in an attempt to crack down on violence at sports events.
But FIFA and UEFA have strict rules to protect their member federations’ independence in running their own affairs and sent a joint letter to Gkirtzikis last week warning they “would have no option but to refer the case to the relevant bodies for immediate sanctions, including the suspension of EPO.”
The bill, entitled “Measures for the confrontation of violence in Greek sports and other provisions”, will be voted on in parliament on May 6-7 with the expected necessary adjustments.
After emerging from Wednesday’s meeting Kontonis said: “The conversation was frank, constructive and productive while clarification was given to Mr Infantino on two issues of concern to federations: self-rule and the procedure of appointing judges to disciplinary bodies.”
“I am absolutely satisfied with the discussion. I thank the representatives of the parties and I think that both federations can now safely reach conclusions because today they heard the authenticity of the state’s positions.
“The government does not want to exclude teams from Europe because it takes the country and its workers – the players and everyone else involved – into account.”