Penalized clubs get EPAE backing for their appeal

The country’s association for professional soccer clubs, EPAE, announced yesterday that it would lodge an inquiry at Monday’s sports tribunal hearing into appeals lodged by Olympiakos and Panathinaikos over severe punishment prompted by recent reckless fan violence. The local soccer federation’s sports tribunal deducted three league points each from both clubs last week, nullified the three available points from their postponed encounter, and, moreover, fined Olympiakos and Panionios 300,000 and 100,000 euros respectively. EPAE’s newly appointed chief, the high-profile lawyer Alexandros Lykourezos, said the association intended to question the legal standing of the point reductions imposed on both teams. Despite the association’s expected inquiry at Monday’s appeal hearing, Lykourezos said EPAE did not intend to disrupt legal proceedings. However, in remarks made yesterday, Lykourezos said the point-reductions were not in line with regulations set by UEFA and FIFA, soccer’s respective European and international governing bodies. «I will do what I believe serves EPAE’s interests and, at the next general meeting, will call for the abolishment of Article 21 in Greek soccer’s regulations that foresees point reductions,» said Lykourezos. It was his objective, the new EPAE head said, to fully harmonize the association’s operations with those of FIFA and UEFA. Olympiakos and Panionios had requested EPAE’s intervention on Wednesday, Lykourezos said yesterday. He also noted that EPAE would seek clarification of the circumstances under which referees could either interrupt or postpone games. The referee appointed for the derailed Panionios-Olympiakos league match less than two weeks ago postponed the encounter after rival fans stirred up a wild frenzy in the stands that caused severe injuries and material damage. The point reductions displaced Olympiakos from the league’s top spot, while Panionios slipped back to mid-place from the upper half. Yesterday’s developments have generated mild hopes at both clubs of less severe punishment. Both clubs are keeping their fingers crossed for reinstatement of their league points and a rescheduling of the canceled encounter. Going beyond the ongoing ordeal, EPAE’s board agreed yesterday to upgrade its operations. Intended measures include remaining open on weekends during official games in order to combat any abnormalities and updating the association’s website – results and standings – immediately after matches.