Cyprus Mail

Greece heading for football ‘Grexit’ as FIFA deadline looms

The Greek Cup was cancelled after the first leg of the semi-final between PAOK Salonika and Olympiakos Piraeus on March 2 was abandoned due to a violent pitch invasion

Greece moved a step closer to a ban by soccer’s governing bodies FIFA and UEFA on Wednesday as talks between the two organisations and the government over state involvement in the sport ended with no agreement.

A delegation from world football’s governing body FIFA and their European counterpart, along with the Hellenic Football Federation (EPO) met with Deputy Minister for Sport Stavros Kontonis.

The delegation was hoping to resolve differences with the government and avert a potential ban or ‘Grexit’, as it has been dubbed by local media, after Kontonis cancelled this season’s Greek Cup because of crowd violence.

FIFA and UEFA have given Kontonis a deadline of April 1 to reinstate the competition.

“The cup must be completed,” said the head of FIFA’s delegation Costakis Koutsokoumnis, who is the president of the Cyprus Football Association (CFA).

“There are measures that could be implemented; it could be played behind closed doors or on in a neutral stadium, and it could even be staged with foreign referees…

“I hope that we will… be in a position to give a one-week extension to the deadline for the minister to change his decision. But I fear that this will not happen.”

Kontonis cancelled the cup after the first leg of the semi-final between PAOK Salonika and Olympiakos Piraeus on March 2 was abandoned due to a violent pitch invasion, with fans hurling flares and missiles before being dispersed by riot police.

Kontonis has said no decision on reinstating the cup will be made until the EPO’s appeal against the move is heard by the Supreme Court on April 5.

“The meeting was constructive, but there was no agreement,” Kontonis told reporters.

“For the government, the importance here is social peace and the protection of law and order, and of Greece’s youth; at the moment we are waiting for FIFA’s requests in writing in order to respond and take the necessary actions.”

Kontonis said that the government could discuss reversing their decision if the EPO withdrew their appeal.

“If there is a withdrawal of the appeal, then the government will set a precondition to any further discussions that the EPO takes measures to clean up Greek football.”

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