NEWS

Probe into Greek soccer corruption gathers pace

An Athens prosecutor investigating alleged felonies and fraud in Greek soccer has been given the go-ahead by a council of judges to use as part of his investigation secretly recorded telephone conversations that point to the involvement of officials from a top-flight Super League club.

Deputy First Instance Court Prosecutor Aristidis Koreas asked the Council of Misdemeanor Court Judges for permission to use the recordings after encountering evidence that “the president of a Super League club and close associates approached and tried to to use policemen, judges, politicians and other powerful figures for their own ends as part of the planning and organization of their team.” Koreas added that some of these people were hired by the club in question once they retired from previous positions.

According to the prosecutor there is evidence that those accused have been involved in bribery and influencing the results of soccer matches.

In his 50-page bill of indictment, Koreas explains that his investigation was triggered by an August 2012 Kathimerini report. At that time the former deputy president of the Hellenic Football Federation’s (EPO) Central Refereeing Committee, Christos Savvas, had made allegations concerning how referees were appointed to officiate matches during the 2012-13 season.

Koreas has since questioned 15 people, including EPO officials, referees and club executives.

Two club chairmen told Koreas that there is a criminal organization operating within Greek soccer with the aim of controlling the game. The two officials named the people they suspect of being responsible.

Also, a Super League referee told the prosecutor that shortly before what turned out to be the last match he officiated, two EPO officials approached him separately and both told him that he should ensure a specific team won the game.

A referee observer, responsible for assessing the performance of match officials, told the prosecutor that the best referees and observers are not picked because they are not willing to serve particular interests.

The recordings referred to by Koreas include conversations involving the officials of a particular Super League club. Among the issues discussed are: the election of the EPO president in October 2012, the election of a Super League president in July 2012 and the hiring by another Super League team of a coach half of whose salary would be paid by another club.

During the conversations there were also references to Super League referees and whether they would be appointed to oversee specific matches.

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