SPORTS

FIFA renews its warning to AEK

Despite making it into the lucrative Champions League for a second consecutive season, AEK soccer club’s financial straits seem far from over. FIFA, the sport’s international governing body, yesterday warned the Greek club to settle a 160,000-euro sum owed to its former Brazilian player Rodrigo Ferrugem by an October 7 deadline or face stiff disciplinary consequences. Ferrugem abandoned the club over financial differences. AEK, which failed to honor a previous FIFA deadline on the case last February, was warned by the association that this latest warning would be the last. If not met, Ferrugem’s case, FIFA said, would be taken to its disciplinary committee. The club’s disqualification from this season’s Champions League, as well as the domestic league, cannot be ruled out. This latest FIFA warning was delivered to EPO, Greece’s soccer federation. The cash-strapped Athens club has reportedly been unable to pay some players for 10 months now. During the summer break, several team members, including star midfielder Vassilis Tsartas, had warned that they would ship out if their cases were left unresolved. Striker Demis Nikolaidis, perhaps the club’s most popular player among fans during his tenure, opted to leave the club for Atletico Madrid in the summer. Coinciding with yesterday’s latest reminder of the Greek club’s cash woes, AEK finalized a new, modestly sized deal, according to the club, with Portuguese player Antonio Folia. The Athens club said the transfer deal was worth 178,400 dollars, payable in 10 equal installments beginning October 15. According to the agreement, AEK will need to complete payments for the transfer by next July. In one of the club’s other cases involving outstanding player fees, AEK yesterday submitted the first of 10 16,000-euro installments to the legal representative of another former player, Maurizio Wright. Meanwhile, AEK’s bonus payment scheme for players for the current domestic season, not yet finalized, is expected to be negotiated today. According to sources, AEK’s players will each request 90 euros per minute of game participation should the club manage to win the Greek league, half this amount for second place, which provides the club with a Champions League berth for next season, and a smaller unspecified amount for third place. In this case, AEK would need to earn its Champions League berth through qualifiers.