SPORTS

Lianis attacks club chief’s ‘blackmail,’ threatens action

Sports Minister Giorgos Lianis went on the offensive yesterday against Panathinaikos President Angelos Philippidis, accusing him of resorting to blackmail in order to obtain a ban on fans of Thessaloniki soccer club PAOK from attending last Sunday’s game against Panathinaikos in Athens. Lianis did not mention Philippidis by name, but it was obvious who he meant. «The pressure I came under from both sides to take one decision or another was infuriating. I feel sorry for those who manage such big clubs. We have reached the point of no return. This is the last time club presidents dare intervene. Not even a simple sports fan would put up with what I heard. I was the subject of pressure, even blackmail, from Panathinaikos. There are limits. Let no one dare talk to the sports minister like that in the future; they will be sent to the sports judge and kicked out of soccer, especially if they are repeat offenders,» Lianis raged to reporters yesterday. Philippidis – whose ambition to become an MP with the opposition New Democracy party is well known – will face trial, along with coach Sergio Markarian and other Panathinaikos, for verbally abusing and assaulting a referee.