Squabble over Euro cup bonus

The 23 men who unexpectedly won the Euro 2004 championship two months ago have become embroiled in a messy dispute with the government over a state bonus for Greece’s best-ever showing in international soccer. Following a written statement on Wednesday in which players complained that the bonus was less than they had been promised, yesterday the government said the collective 4-million-euro reward – which works out at 173,000 euros per player – was highly generous. «There is no question of breaking a pledge,» acting government spokesman Vassilis Antonaros said. «[Each player stands to get] about the same sum the State gives to Olympic gold medalists in individual disciplines… We are giving [them] more than we had originally promised.» The Hellenic Soccer Federation (EPO) joined the fray on Wednesday, with EPO Chairman Vassilis Gagatsis saying players were «fully justified» in seeking a million euros each. Yesterday, Antonaros suggested that EPO could top up the bonus from its own coffers. Greece plays Albania tomorrow in a 2006 World Cup qualifier.