Panathinaikos to take soccer federation to CAS

By George Georgakopoulos

Europa League challenger Panathinaikos is threatening to take the Hellenic Football Federation (EPO) to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Lausanne and to Greek civil courts for bending its own rules.

The Greens had appealed to the Greek soccer federation's court of arbitration regarding the Super League's decision to change the setup of the league system midseason, but EPO allegedly violated its own system of appointing judges for the hearing of the case to get the verdict it wanted, having already given its own blessing to the restructuring of the leagues.

“Greek soccer is being played with loaded dice. This is such an obvious violation that we are certain that CAS will rule in our favor,” Panathinaikos president Yiannis Alafouzos told Kathimerini English Edition on Friday.

Panathinaikos believes this was meant to cover up the decision of changing the number of teams to get relegated from the Super League from three to two, in order to accommodate the entry of Olympiakos Volou, Kavala and Iraklis to the second division from this season and to increase the number of the top-flight teams next year from 16 to 18.

“And we are not just talking about the restructuring of the leagues, which was meant to favor specific clubs, but about the very composition of the tribunal. The judges appointed were not those who were supposed to be there, nor were we allowed to be represented at the hearing, even though we had asked for representation,” said the Panathinaikos frontman, promising to take the case to CAS “as soon as it becomes technically feasible.”

Although sports clubs are forbidden from resorting to civil courts for their own issues, the Greens also intend to take the case there, too, as “this is not a sporting issue, but one that pertains to the regulations of an organization, so it comes under civil law,” according to the head of the club.

The issue goes deeper though. EPO is like an island in that the so-called soccer self-rule status it enjoys prevents the intervention of the state in its affairs. Alafouzos is not happy with that at all, given how things stand in Greek soccer these days.

“We cannot tolerate the self-rule status when soccer is controlled by people who are about to appear in court accused of match fixing, with significant evidence collected against them including conversations recorded by the National Intelligence Service, etc,” explained Alafouzos. “Something has to be done.”