State aims to rid soccer of ‘capos’

Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos pledged yesterday to rid professional soccer of «opportunists and godfathers» through tighter auditing of the clubs. «We have the political will to solve the problem… we are dealing with deeply rooted illegal practices… (we will rid the sport) of persons with a criminal record, so-called businessmen who infest the sport,» Venizelos told reporters. A new, 12-member Professional Soccer Committee, to be presided over by a retired former Supreme Court president, will scrutinize the finances of all professional clubs. In order to participate in next season’s professional leagues (first, second and third division), clubs must submit by April 30 a «certificate of participation» and a letter of guarantee equal to 10 percent of their budget. The committee will invite them to submit their budgets within 15 days and will audit their books within another 30 days. The law provides for part of clubs’ liabilities, those arising from withholding VAT, fraudulent contracts and other illegal practices, to be transferred to their main shareholders, in order to rid the clubs of excessive burdens. The law will also apply to pro basketball clubs. One of the «godfathers» targeted by the State, Makis Psomiadis, has quit AEK together with his two cousins, both named Harilaos, who acted as his straw men. A court yesterday appointed a new board, led by AEK official Yiannis Granitsas.

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