NEWS

2004 soccer stadium dispute

The Hellenic Olympic Committee (HOC) will «use all legal means to protect its interests» against the contractors entrusted with refurbishing the Karaiskaki Stadium, in Piraeus, HOC president Lambis Nikolaou said yesterday. The contractors were consortium Stadka SA, made up of construction firms ALTE (49 percent) and Stelios Agiostratitis (2 percent), and also Thrylos SA (49 percent), a company owned by Socrates Kokkalis, president of Olympiakos, the Piraeus soccer club which had been leasing Karaiskaki until 1998. A week ago the HOC formally voided the award of the project to the consortium because, after repeated delays, it had failed to turn up and sign the contract for the rebuilding of the stadium. This failure had followed protracted negotiations «during which we consented to all their demands,» including extending the lease of the stadium from 24 to 28 years, Nikolaou said. As a result, Karaiskaki will not be available for staging soccer matches during the 2004 Olympics. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) expressed its displeasure over the developments. Denis Oswald, head of the IOC’s Coordination Commission, told Games organizers and government officials this week that the soccer final and one qualifying group must be staged in Athens. «You have several big clubs,» he said. Actually, most of the Athens venues are completely unsuitable to be used in the Olympics. The only possible alternative, AEK’s Nikos Goumas stadium, needs almost as much work as Karaiskaki. «Actually, Athens 2004 (the organizers) is under no obligation to stage a soccer qualifying group in Athens,» Nikolaou said later. «We can probably fit the final at the Olympic Stadium.»