Soccer law tweaked again

The government yesterday proposed yet another amendment to a draft sports law in a bid to persuade soccer’s world governing body FIFA to lift a ban barring Greece from international competitions for allowing government interference in the running of the sport. The new amendment, the latest of several proposed since Monday when FIFA imposed the ban, makes the Hellenic Soccer Federation (EPO) solely responsible for the organization of domestic football in an attempt to convince FIFA that the government will no longer interfere excessively in matters of soccer. The fresh amendment, tabled in Parliament yesterday morning by Sports Minister Giorgos Orfanos, was widely seen as a response to a request made on Wednesday by EPO President Vassilis Gagatsis, who has had numerous run-ins with Orfanos over the past two years. The draft law is due to be voted through Parliament next week, just in time for FIFA’s July 15 deadline for Greece to «put its house in order.» Orfanos was due to send a copy of the proposed changes to FIFA later yesterday. «Mr Orfanos and FIFA had agreed that the necessary changes would be made by July 15 and this deadline has not yet expired,» government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros told reporters. «When an agreement is made to address an issue within a specific time frame, this time frame is valid until the very last day,» he added. Opposition PASOK spokesperson Giorgos Lianis condemned the proposed legislation as «a monster, a chameleon which changes color every time (the government) presents it exultantly.» FIFA officials had not commented on the government’s proposal by late yesterday but a swift response was expected from soccer’s governing body. FIFA had announced that it was suspending EPO as it was «not in line with the principles… regarding the independence of the decision-making process of the football-governing body in each country.»