SPORTS

EPO unhappy as Rehhagel puts off talks

Last Monday a private television station tried to approach Greece soccer coach Otto Rehhagel for an interview during the main news bulletin, with the intention of asking the German to comment on this country’s fiscal crisis and Germany’s stance on the issue. However, that morning Rehhagel had a far more important appointment with the president of the Hellenic Football Federation (EPO). When Rehhagel emerged, he said to waiting journalists, «President, president.» EPO president Sofoklis Pilavios then appeared and stated that «talks on the renewal of the German manager’s contract will resume after the World Cup.» That sentence changes everything in EPO’s planning, as the federation had wanted to conclude the issue of Rehhagel’s contract renewal before the national team flies to Switzerland for its final preparations on May 22. EPO had thought it could gain some time to find Rehhagel’s successor if the German decided to leave the Greek bench. But there will be very little time if Rehhagel decides to go this summer as in early September Greece must play its first Euro 2012 qualifying games. EPO will have to look for other options while Rehhagel’s negotiating strength will depend on Greece’s World Cup showing. EPO’s enthusiasm for a contract renewal after the national team reached the World Cup finals was tempered by the poor showing and loss in the friendly against Senegal on March 3, while recent tax changes entail a cut in the German’s salary. No wonder he didn’t want to speak to the TV.