SPORTS

Greek players flee local soccer league

By George Georgakopoulos

Greek soccer players are leaving the country’s league in droves, with the most high-profile examples in the last few days being the departures of Greek internationals Vassilis Torosodis and Nikos Spyropoulos.

The discredited and devalued Greek championship – with the huge decline in sponsor and television rights revenues, salaries, attendances, competitiveness and interest – is losing its stars faster than apricot trees lose their leaves in fall.

Roma swooped for Olympiakos utility man Torosidis and added him to his roster immediately, even though its original plans had been about taking him to the Italian capital this summer.

Spyropoulos will also continue his career in Italy. Reports suggested on Tuesday that Panathinaikos has accepted a bid by Chievo Verona for the Greece left-back and that Panathinaikos midfielder Lazaros Christodoulopoulos may well take the plane to Italy, too, in the next few days.

Another example is former AEK winger Panayiotis Lagos, who has resorted to moving to Ukraine’s Vorskla Poltava.

His former teammate, Mavroudis Bougaidis has been chased by Italy’s Parma this week but the bid has met AEK’s denial. The young central defender has pleaded with his club to reconsider Parma’s offer, but AEK is probably determined not to let him go.

If Bougaidis does move to Parma he will join another Greek there, Sotiris Ninis. The Greece midfielder joined the Italian club last summer and stated in September that “in Greece there is no soccer, and one can also realize this through the way they speak about us abroad.

"In the Greek league the level is very low, while abroad you learn how to play soccer. Greek players should go abroad if they can,” said Ninis, who has not yet hit good form with the «Parmensi».

On the other hand, while a significant number of Greeks are also plying their trade in Cyprus, the island’s growing financial crisis seems to be stemming the players' flow from Greece to Cyprus.

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