Soccer federation settles differences with state over law

The Hellenic Football Federation (EPO) has settled its differences with the state over a controversial new sports law and will avoid any potential intervention from FIFA, EPO president Sofoklis Pilavios said on Tuesday.

Relations between EPO and the state had become extremely strained over the bill, which was introduced last month in an attempt to tackle violence and financial problems around soccer in the debt-ridden nation.

“We had a good discussion and we found a solution that satisfies both parties without requiring intervention by FIFA,» Pilavios told reporters.

“The subject of self-governance is something agreed between ourselves and the state. The EPO will impose penalties from now on, this is our responsibility.”

World soccer’s governing body had asked the EPO to provide assurances that the new state legislation, which gives more power to the state-run Professional Sports Commission (EEA) to impose penalties on clubs, would not contradict its statutes on self-governance.

In effect it has now been agreed that the EEA will have the first and last say on the issuing of licenses for teams, while EPO will be responsible for imposing relevant disciplinary penalties if the documentation of a team is not complete.

“I do not know if there was ever actually a point whereby FIFA would have intervened,» said the General Secretary for Sport Panos Bitsaxis.

“After a long debate we have reached definitive conclusions and the EPO has presented us with a satisfactory system of penalties. We all want professional sports in terms of legitimacy and to move away from unsavoury phenomena afflicting the whole of the professional sport and the responsibility of the state.”

Greece has been in trouble with FIFA in the past. In July 2006, FIFA banned Greece and its clubs from playing in international competition after ruling that the EPO did not comply with statutes regarding the independence of soccer associations and their decision-making processes.

FIFA did reverse the decision in less than two weeks after Greece’s parliament stepped in to vote in favour of an amendment to the offending laws.


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