SPORTS

Basketball game is postponed for the third time

Asemifinal basketball clash between Olympiakos and Panathinaikos due to take place today was postponed for the third time in less than a week yesterday after the former team’s boss decided not to supply tickets to the visiting side due to alleged security concerns. Earlier this week, a group of hooded, stone-throwing hooligans had ambushed the Panathinaikos team bus on its way to Olympiakos’s home ground, the Peace and Friendship Stadium in Faliron. Several players were slightly injured. Citing security concerns, Olympiakos officials had pressed for a decision preventing Panathinaikos fans from attending. Yesterday, the deputy culture minister, Yiannis Kourakis, the government’s top sporting official, unsuccessfully sought a solution through endless meetings with officials representing both teams. He passed on the case to ESAKE, the association of professional basketball clubs, after the talks failed to produce a result by late last night. Earlier in the day, Giorgos Vassilakopoulos, the president of EOK, Greece’s basketball federation, spoke harsh words about the sport’s current state, on local radio. «All the prominent gentlemen connected with basketball arrived at a time when the sport was Europe’s top at both club and international level. And they came purely for personal exposure,» said Vassilakopoulos, referring to various big-time entrepreneurs who are currently serving as presidents of Greek clubs. «The fact that they’ve created rivalries, business plans and hooliganism is keeping fans away from the courts. The loss of people who truly serve the game and the arrival of all these swindlers is the biggest threat,» he added. The recent controversy has been a major embarrassment for Greek basketball internationally, said the EOK chief. «We’re turning into a laughing stock,» said Vassilakopoulos, «and hurting what we’re trying to support.»