Accusations fly as soccer season starts

Far from being a new beginning, the start of the new Greek soccer season at the weekend saw a flurry of accusations and counter-accusations about favored teams and referees who are, allegedly, the puppets of certain club presidents. Hostilities started on Sunday, right after the end of the Panionios-Panathinaikos match, which ended in a 2-2 draw. Incensed at what he saw as the referee’s tolerance for Panionios defenders’ tough fouls and at a supposed penalty kick not awarded to their team, Panathinaikos president Angelos Philippidis and coach Yiannis Kyrastas both accused referees of favoring archrival Olympiakos. In (Saturday’s) Olympiakos-Iraklis match, the referee had shown yellow cards to all (Iraklis) defenders in the first 20 minutes. In our match, (the referee did not show) a single one, Kyrastas said. Philippidis piped in, accusing Olympiakos owner and chairman Socrates Kokkalis of fixing matches. Those who believe that the shack (Greek soccer slang for the place where matches are supposedly fixed) has been torn down, they are fooling themselves. In its place, we now have luxury offices rising. And in case you think I am speaking in tongues, I tell you that it is Mr. Vice President of the Association of Professional Football Clubs (EPAE) who’s building them. Kokkalis is EPAE’s vice president. This is the usual humbug by a mere Vardinoyiannis employee, Kokkalis replied yesterday. I can’t be bothered. The Vardinoyiannis family are the majority shareholders of Panathinaikos. Philippidis was appointed in 2000 as the club’s executive president, after part-owner Giorgos Vardinoyiannis stepped down. EPAE president Thanassis Kanellopoulos said that Philippidis should prove his allegations and indicated he should explain himself to the specially appointed sports judge. Panionios president Achilleas Beos, himself once a voluble accuser of Kokkalis and former EPAE president Victor Mitropoulos, attacked Philippidis, saying, It’s a shame for a great team like Panathinaikos to look for excuses. In partnership with the private bank Citigroup, Sotheby’s has organized a traveling exhibition of highlights from the Greek sale. Today and tomorrow, the public has a chance to view a number of the works which will go under the hammer in October.

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