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Gattuso: Unpaid OFI players couldn’t buy food

Former coach Gennaro Gattuso has lifted the lid on the plight of crisis-club OFI Crete which has been banned from playing in the Super League until it clears mounting debts with its staff.

The Italian 2006 World Cup winner, who quit the club at the start of this month, said that in December he gave 30,000 euros to some of his players, a few of whom had not been paid for a year.

“I left OFI because from the day my staff and I took over there were problems,» Gattuso told the local newspaper Nea Kriti.

“After [Manthos] Poulinakis resigned there were multiple problems,» he said of the former club president.

“Although I was receiving my salary…the players were not and they were coming to me asking for money from last season as well as the current season.”

Gattuso said there were times when he had to bail the club out with his own money.

“I was promised that Italian investors would come in but every day something new was coming up,» he added. «For example on January 8 we had to pay out 150,000 euros and I managed to help raise that money.

“Then there was another letter saying that we have to pay 50,000 euros. As for the players, on Dec. 23 I gave them 30,000 euros out of my own pocket, they had no money even to eat and justifiably demanded money from me.”

The league said on Thursday that OFI would not fulfil its fixtures until outstanding wages were paid to Spanish midfielders Jorge Lopez and Jordi Lopez Pelpeto who are owed «large sums of money».

The club, who had been due to play Atromitos on Sunday, was also docked four points.

It was the second time this month OFI was punished: It was also docked six points on January 16 for owing money to former player Aleksandar Pesic.

The two punishments have left OFI languishing in the relegation zone with 10 points and league regulations state that if two more fixtures are cancelled the club will be demoted.

Asked if he had a message for the fans, Gattuso said: «I stayed at OFI for six months solely for them and for the city, certainly not the money».

[Reuters]