SPORTS

Champ’s problems mount

Just months into his career at Olympiakos, Moroccan defender Abdeslam Ouaddou has asked the Greek champion’s administration to terminate his contract because of serious family problems. The Moroccan’s intention is the latest in a series of player concerns at Olympiakos, where the team’s form has slumped in recent weeks for back-to-back defeats. Ouaddou, who reportedly discussed his intentions with the club on Tuesday, said he wished to retire from soccer. The 28-year-old player, who took part in yesterday’s training session at Olympiakos, has been granted leave from club commitments to visit his family in France, where they are based. Olympiakos officials hope Ouaddou will return willing to carry on following the break. However, an initial attempt to persuade the player to continue was unsuccessful. Just days ago, the Moroccan reportedly visited a Belgian spiritualist for a session in yoga and for psychological support. There have been rumors in the local press about a mysterious Belgian figure linked with Ouaddou. A 1-0 home loss against AS Roma last week has left the Piraeus team equal last in the Champions League’s group with a solitary point from three games and little hope of a place in the competition’s next round. In domestic competition, Olympiakos holds top spot but suffered a shock defeat last weekend against uncelebrated Atromitos. Responding to the bad trot, coach Trond Sollied held a series of one-on-one meetings on Tuesday with a selection of the club’s players in a bid to recharge the squad. The Norwegian apparently asked all for their opinions on why the team’s morale was lagging, how the players felt personally, as well as whether they felt negative about their coach, and if so, why. Sollied reportedly told his players, «I protect you all, but some of you are creating problems through the media,» a statement believed to have been aimed at Brazilian star Rivaldo. Rivaldo, who was not summoned by his coach, yesterday released a statement that noted: «If it depends on me, I will give my utmost in the effort to qualify [beyond the Champions League’s] group stage… I’ve worked hard to get here and if certain people don’t want to protect my reputation, then I’ll do it myself.» Veteran defender Grigoris Georgatos, one of the players summoned by Sollied, said he had no qualms about the Norwegian. Another aging team member, Predrag Djordjevic, also summoned, promised his form would improve, while wondering whether his participation in last summer’s World Cup finals with Serbia and Montenegro had worn him out. «But I’m sure I will recover, and I don’t need any rest,» the player told reporters. «Under no circumstances will I not become the Djordjevic you all know.» Olympiakos departs Sunday for Rome, where it will meet Roma next Tuesday in a Champions League clash. The Greek competition’s front runner meets archrival Panathinaikos in a domestic clash 10 days from now.