Time for FIFA’s ethics watchdog to intervene directly in Greece

Time for FIFA’s ethics watchdog to intervene directly in Greece

World soccer body FIFA appears to be losing patience with Greece, as it evolves into soccer’s Far West, complete with gun-slinging cowboys unleashed by the a sense of nationwide lawlessness that extends far beyond the so-called Beautiful Game. But does FIFA really want to intervene, or it is merely threatening a “Grexit” for appearances’ sake?

The Greek government appears more inclined to equating the victims with the perpetrators of violence by suspending the entire league instead of imposing exemplary punishment on those who abuse fan and cash power and thus turning the soccer pitch into an field of rivalry between business and political interests.

Athens also appears to be oblivious – deliberately or not – to the possible consequences of Greece being isolated from the international game, as the country’s last hope for reforming the soccer scene lies in a “bailout program” imposed by international institutions – in much the same way its economy managed to avoid formal bankruptcy and continued to pay out civil servant salaries and pensions, albeit curtailed.

Being cut out of the international game would mean the end of soccer for Greece, or at least soccer as it ought to be. It would pave the way for local soccer gangsters who are trying to pull the strings behind the scenes, to grow bigger and stronger. In turn, stadium and street violence would spiral further out of control.

So, how is FIFA to respond to the situation given the state of the local game, the domestic soccer authorities and the position of the Greek government, which is obviously trying to appease its cronies?

Isn’t the world soccer’s governing body supposed to intervene and resolve the situation on its own? Isn’t it stated clearly in its charter, particularly in its Code of Ethics, that it should intervene “to safeguard the integrity and reputation” of the game?

Specifically, article 27, paragraph 5 on page 23 reads: “The Ethics Committee shall also be entitled to investigate and to judge national cases if associations, confederations and other sports organizations fail to prosecute such breaches, fail to prosecute them in compliance with the fundamental principles of law, or an adequate judgment cannot be expected given the specific circumstances.”

Hasn’t FIFA witnessed enough such violations of the code in Greece yet? Isn’t it supposed to intervene directly in the same way it did in Argentina, not by issuing high-brow threats about a Greek exclusion from the global game but by investigating the situation immediately and resolving it?

How can the international federation wash its hands and allow the sport get such a bad name in a European country that was also the birthplace of sports? Isn’t it time FIFA became Greek soccer’s IMF, lending some expertise, as well as excommunicating the persons that brought the local game into such disrepute, now that is has become obvious the local authorities are unable to do so?

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