SPORTS

Celebrity lawyer runs for EPAE president

Alexandros Lykourezos, a well-known lawyer and former MP with the ruling New Democracy party, yesterday officially announced his candidacy for the presidency of the Association of Professional Soccer Clubs (EPAE). Lykourezos’s high-profile candidacy in Friday’s election is part of the newly elected government’s strategy for wresting control of sports bodies, including EPAE, sports federations and the Hellenic Olympic Committee (HOC), most of which are currently governed by people close to the PASOK party formerly in power. Control of the HOC will also influence who will replace outgoing International Olympic Committee (IOC) member Nikos Filaretos, who retires at the end of the year, at the IOC. The EPAE elections are not connected to those for the HOC, but the presidency of the body is a plum prize which the government wants to get. Lykourezos did not refer to his party affiliation and promised to «be a president of all (soccer) clubs.» «If I get elected, my administration will be completely objective, equitable and balanced, irrespective of which teams vote for me… At my age (70) and with my record, when I commit myself to something, I mean it,» Lykourezos said. «EPAE must represent all clubs, as happens throughout Europe. You all know I am a fan of Panathinaikos, but I will wear no team hat. To be honest, I tried to ensure Olympiakos’s support, but there was no response,» he added. Lykourezos will challenge outgoing EPAE President Thanassis Kanellopoulos, who is known to be a supporter of PASOK, but whose tenure at the helm of EPAE has been controversial enough for the party to deny him a place in last March’s national elections on the list of candidate MPs that he had openly campaigned for. Kanellopoulos is notably backed by Olympiakos’s president, Socrates Kokkalis. A third candidate, Aegaleo soccer club President Dimitris Koukis, is backed by the club’s controversial strongman Victor Mitropoulos. Mitropoulos, who has repeatedly clashed with Kanellopoulos in the past, appears confident that his candidate will make the runoff. The EPAE president is elected by a body of 24 electors, consisting of the representatives of the 16 first-division clubs, five representatives of second-division clubs, two from the third division and one representative of the Hellenic Soccer Federation (EPO). Lykourezos was nominated by Yiannis Karras, president of second-division Proodeftiki. Ironically, Karras, elected as one of the second-division electors on Monday, was declared ineligible by the sports judge. Son of a former justice minister and one of the country’s best-known lawyers, Lykourezos became an MP in 2000. When Parliament voted to revise the constitution to prevent MPs from pursuing their professional careers in other fields, he chose to resign.