SPORTS

Sports authority pledges looser quota for imports

Deputy Culture Minister Giorgos Lianis, the government’s top sporting official, promised yesterday that he would accept a joint proposal by ESAKE, Greek basketball’s association of professional sports, and EOK, the sport’s national federation, for a revision to the quota system for foreign players competing in Greece. Under the likely new regulations, expected to become valid as of today until the current season’s end, Greek clubs will be able to replace as many as two European and two non-European roster members during the season with either European or non-European replacements. Until now, Europeans could only be replaced by Europeans, and non-Europeans only by non-Europeans. Following this revision, clubs will also be able to replace Europeans with Americans, for example, and vice versa, as long as quotas are not broken. Each Greek team’s roster is permitted to carry 11 local players, between three and five Europeans – both EU and non-EU – and up to two non-Europeans, who, in most cases, are Americans. At yesterday’s meeting, Lianis told ESAKE and EOK officials that he would authorize their recommendations today. Olympiakos, a traditional powerhouse in Greek basketball which has fared poorly so far this season and lies low in the top-level A1 league’s standings, stands to benefit from the quota revision. Its recently ousted coach, Lefteris Subotic, had opted for European signings and no Americans during his tenure. But his replacement, Dragan Sakota, who signed with Olympiakos late last November after successful runs with other Greek clubs – beginning with a European Cup Winners’ Cup title with Thessaloniki club PAOK in 1991 – would like to unload some of the team’s European roster members, whose abilities he doubts, and replace them with American players. Faced by an end-of-season deadline, the quota system’s revision will soon require new rounds of talks between EOK, ESAKE, and PSAK, the country’s union for professional basketball players, to prepare the ground for new regulations next season and beyond that. «We want to come up with regulations that will last six years so as to avoid having to make changes on a regular basis,» noted ESAKE’s president, Vassilis Economidis, yesterday. He has already delivered requests to all A1 clubs for their proposals. PSAK was not represented at yesterday’s meeting between Lianis and ESAKE and EOK officials. Economidis, chief of ESAKE’, informed Frangiscos Alvertis, the president of the players’ union, about the quota revision by telephone. If Lianis does follow through with yesterday’s promise for the quota revision, several foreign players at many A1 clubs will probably make their debuts in Greek competition over the weekend.