Swiss court backs Reds
The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Switzerland yesterday turned down an appeal by Apollon Kalamaria to have the final Super League standings provisionally frozen, clearing the way for Olympiakos to be crowned league champion. The Greek soccer federation, EPO, which was privately informed of the Swiss-based court’s verdict, said CAS had unanimously rejected Apollon’s request for interim measures in its appeal against EPO and Olympiakos. CAS has not yet made an official statement. Olympiakos lost its away game against Apollon, now relegated, but was awarded the three points for victory after filing an appeal against the result, on the grounds that the Thessaloniki club had fielded an ineligible player. Interventions by AEK, which ended second, two points behind Olympiakos, and third-placed Panathinaikos, were also rejected by CAS. Apollon pushed for CAS to hear its case and rule that the final Super League standings could not be officially confirmed until it had issued a decision. Following CAS’s ruling, the Super League officially ratified the league table yesterday, which gives the green light for the beginning of the newly introduced play-offs between the teams that ended second to fifth, which will determine their final placings. The opening games, in which Aris hosts Panathinaikos and AEK greets Panionios, are scheduled for tomorrow. Commenting on the CAS ruling, AEK star Rivaldo, whose contract has a year to go, said his days were over at AEK and that he would return to his native Brazil. «I am a champion and champions don’t play in play-offs,» Rivaldo told his teammates yesterday. «We won more points on the pitch,» he said, refering to the employment of legal means by Olympiakos, his ex club, to secure the league title. Another of AEK’s leading players, Akis Zikos, who, last month, announced that he would retire at the end of this season, said he would take part in the play-offs.