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Greek Minister for Sport postpones Super League football premiere

Greek Minister for Sport postpones Super League football premiere
Athens, August 19, 2016/ Independent Balkan News Agency

By Zacharias Petrou

Greece’s Deputy Minister for Sport, Stavros Kontonis, announced Thursday that the Super League football, the country’s top division, will be postponed until 5 September at least.

According to an official announcement by the Sports Ministry:  “Deputy Minister for Culture & Sport, Mr. Stavros Kontonis, applying the provisions of Law 4049/2012, based on the recommendations of the Chief of Hellenic Police and DEAV (Standing Committee Against Violence), signed a decision with which football matches of the professional championship “Super League Greece” – season 2016-2017 – are postponed at least until 5 September 2016.

In their recommendations, the Hellenic Police and DEAV mention explicitly that “the conditions of the Law apply which justify administrative measures, as it is considered that there are serious reasons which require the protection of public interests and issues are raised of probable breach of public order and safety and disruption of social peace””.

According to the minister, “under the present circumstances and until normality is restored, carrying out football matches becomes very dangerous in all schedule official competitions”.

Greek football has been plagued by disagreements between top Super League clubs and the ministry of Sport with the country Football Federation.

The president of the Hellenic Football Federation (EPO), Giorgos Girtzikis, and 21 other people who served as executive board members from 2005 to 2012, will stand trial for financial felonies, according to local media reports.

A prosecutor recommended that the EPO chairman and other suspects should be held accountable for financial losses incurred by the federation, amounting to around 29 million euros, which it paid out to a company as part of a deal to issue compulsory health cards to professional soccer players which was never fully implemented according to plan.

The deputy minister for Sport has asked FIFA to replace the EPO administration with a temporary management.

According to Kontonis, increased rivalry and the extremely tense climate that has developed recently, shortly before the start of football competitions and particularly the Super League championship, between the Football Federation (EPO), the organizing authority of the championship and clubs, as well as the wide conviction amongst fans regarding non transparency and unfairness as to the conditions under which the championship takes place which poses great risks to public order and safety, makes it is exceedingly possible that the slightest cause can trigger widespread violent behavior.

RESPONSE

The Football Association issued an announcement strongly attacking deputy Minister for Sport, Stavros Kontonis, following his decision to postpone the start of the Super League season.

Among other things, the announcement says “Kontonis believes he is football” and has called of the premiere of the Super League season citing the tense climate and rivalries that he himself is first to fuel through his actions on a daily basis.

“His presence, actions and course in the time he has been minister proved that all he cares about and his primary aim is to destroy the sport, financially strangle clubs and professional football, annihilate the national sides and lead amateur clubs and athletes to misery and ultimate disappearance” the EPO announcement reads.

The Federation also says that it is determined to defend the independence of football in every legal way within the framework defined by the international standards set by FIFA and UEFA.

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