SPORTS

Pilavios is new chief of EPO

Sofoklis Pilavios is the new president of the Hellenic Football Federation (EPO) after his landslide election on Saturday. He succeeds Vassilis Gagatsis, who resigned last month after seven years in the post. Pilavios, who had been tipped as the favorite for the election, secured 44 votes against just 11 for his rival Viktor Mitropoulos. He was also the man preferred by national team coach Otto Rehhagel, according to reports, while skipper Angelos Basinas also admitted after the election that Pilavios was his choice. «With this election result, Greek soccer today gave a crushing response to the effort to bring back people and mentalities that had been isolated for years,» said Pilavios in a written statement issued after he was voted in, making a clear reference to Mitropoulos, the former league president. «EPO is ready to proceed immediately with a series of initiatives that will form a new field of cooperation with the state and with all bodies of the sport. Issues such as the problems of local associations, the rapid development of infrastructure, the explosion of violence at stadiums, the upgrading of refereeing and sports justice and the improvement of the international image of Greek soccer are everyone’s concerns and have to be addressed in a spirit of cooperation,» he added. Mitropoulos reacted to the election result saying he would challenge it in court, alleging that the vote was rigged: «It is obvious that I do not acknowledge the result. Some people will spend a few more years in prison. Today marks the start of our struggle against the Gagatsis faction.» True to his word, Mitropoulos filed charges against Pilavios yesterday, suggesting that before the start of the voting process some of the associations that had pledged support to Mitropoulos told him that they could not vote for him as they faced the prospect of financial and other consequences unless they voted for Pilavios. Mitropoulos added that the voting was rigged as ballot papers were given to voters folded in various ways, so that they could easily be recognized. Pilavios, supported by those who had re-elected Gagatsis to the post only last October, is a 43-year-old lawyer who specializes in civil and sports law. His involvement with soccer began in 2000, when he became legal adviser to Panathinaikos as well as being responsible for the club’s international relations until September 2004. That was when he became a candidate on Gagatsis’s ticket and was elected as member of the EPO board. He was re-elected last October. He is also a close friend and former classmate of UEFA president Michel Platini’s associate, Tho-doros Theodoridis, son of Olympiakos top official Savvas Theodoridis.