ND ousts popular soccer veteran from European Parliament group


Ruling New Democracy has struck lawmaker and popular soccer veteran Theodoros Zagorakis from its European Parliament group over comments criticizing a recommendation by the Professional Sports Commission to relegate clubs PAOK and Xanthi.

Government spokesman Stelios Petsas announced Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ decision on Tuesday, saying that the government “respects soccer’s right to self-governance, but will not be blackmailed.”

The decision came after the former center-midfielder – who played for PAOK for two stints, among other clubs, and is best known for his role as captain of the squad in helping Greece take the European Championship in 2004 – threatened on Monday to resign from the conservative party if the commission’s recommendation is upheld.

The Professional Sports Commission ruled on Monday that the two clubs are in violation of Super League rules by sharing common ownership and recommended their relegation, drawing the ire of thousands of fans of the two northern Greek clubs.

A decision from the sport’s governing body is expected.