SPORTS

Reds deserved title, boss contends

Olympiakos owner Socrates Kokkalis yesterday blasted AEK Chairman Demis Nikolaidis while contending that his team was rightfully crowned Super League champion this season – for the 11th time in 12 seasons. Kokkalis, who held a news conference before Olympiakos paraded its Super League trophy at the Piraeus club’s Karaiskaki Stadium, also suggested that no major changes would be made to the club during the summer break. He did not comment on local reports claiming that Olympiakos has approached Turkey coach Fatih Terim for the club’s coaching job. Instead, he focused his comments on Olympiakos’s title victory, which he described as fully deserved, despite the controversy surrounding the decision of a disciplinary committee, over a 1-0 loss against relegated Apollon Kalamaria, to award the Piraeus team three points after it was decided that striker Roman Wallner should not have played for the Thessaloniki team. «There are rules and regulations and we cannot play without them,» said Kokkalis. «Mr Wallner should not have played and the original decision that the game should have been replayed was unheard of.» Kokkalis continued: «We did not win the league on paper. The Court of Arbitration of Sport (CAS) ruled that Olympia-kos rightly won the league… A team that plays in the top division should know the rules. If they don’t, they should go and play in a local league.» The Olympiakos boss responded angrily to a previous outspoken attack by Nikolaidis against the Piraeus team, the Greek soccer federation’s chief Vassilis Gagatsis and the verdict to hand Olympiakos the title. «Nikolaidis did not have the guts to say that CAS confirmed that Olympiakos are rightfully champions but targeted Gagatsis instead. That’s not guts, that’s called something else but I won’t say any more as we are taking them to court,» remarked Kokkalis. «A month ago, Nikolaidis was apologizing to AEK fans for the poor soccer they had been playing and, four weeks later, he was saying that they should be champions. They lost 4-1 to Panathinaikos (in the ongoing playoffs) and that has put them in their place.» Meanwhile, in the Super League’s third round of playoff action last night, AEK struggled to overcome Aris, 1-0, courtesy of a 54th-minute goal from striker Nikos Lyberopoulos. In the round’s other encounter, played later last night, Panathinaikos, held a 1-0 lead at halftime against host Panionios. AEK and Panathinaikos went into yesterday’s round as co-leaders of the six-round competition. The pair are battling for the country’s other Champions League berth. Olympiakos qualified as the title winner.