NEWS

Soccer clubs to lose funding if violence persists

The government official in charge of sports believes that the Super League, which runs top flight Greek soccer, is not capable of organizing a proper championship and says that state funding to teams that fail to ensure security at their grounds will be cut.

Speaking to Skai TV on Tuesday, Panos Bitsaxis, the general secretary for sport, said that the unsavoury incidents at the end of the Olympiakos vs Panathinaikos derby on Saturday confirmed that clubs are not doing enough to get their houses in order.

?The conclusions from the derby are that as an institution, as a cooperative of teams, the Super League is not in a position to organise a championship,? he said.

He called on soccer officials to decide how the game could move forward.

Bitsaxis also said teams whose fans invade the pitch, as happened at Olympiakos on Saturday, should have their points deducted. He called on the Hellenic Football Federation (EPO) to adjust its rules to incorporate this penalty.

The government representative also suggested that Olympiakos officials had collaborated with fans to smuggle hundreds of flares into the Karaiskakis Stadium on Saturday and that at least one of the club?s stewards had been involved in a physical attack on a Panathinaikos player.

He also repeated the government?s position that soccer clubs should have any state funding withdrawn if they fail to stamp out violence. One of the main sources of funding for all clubs is sponsorship from the state-controlled gambling firm OPAP.

?We say clearly and directly that we are going to close the tap on state sponsorship,? he said.

Bitsaxis said that the contracts OPAP signs with clubs from now on would contain strict clauses allowing the company to stop its funding if the teams are bedevilled by fan violence.