Gov’t bows to UEFA, FIFA pressure as violence bill passes

The Greek parliament on Thursday voted into law a controversial bill to curb violence in domestic sports after bowing to pressure for changes from soccer governing bodies UEFA and FIFA.

“Yes, there were last minute changes and the bill is a first step in solving the problem of violence in sports,» said Sports Minister Stavros Kontonis at the end of the two-day debate in Parliament which was followed by a vote in which 146 of 243 deputies approved the bill.

“We gave a three-month battle and we are satisfied with the result.”

European governing body UEFA together with world body FIFA had warned Greece that amendments focusing on the right of the government to intervene with the affairs of the country’s soccer federation would not be tolerated and would lead to the federation’s suspension.

Opposition political parties also criticized the leftist government during the debate for trying to interfere with professional soccer in Greece.

“Our objective was not to exclude our teams from international competitions but to bring order,» Kontonis said.

Under the new legislation fines ranging from 10,000 euros to 25 million euros for violent incidents can be imposed as well as the postponement or cancellation of sporting events.

The new legislature also introduces guidelines for the use of security cameras, electronic ticketing, heavy fines to media outlets for showing or inciting violence and prison terms for individuals from unofficial supporters clubs for issuing tickets.

The bill also calls on referees to submit financial statements of their wealth to the relevant authorities.


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