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Greece Football Federation Could Face Suspension from International Football

The Greek Football Federation (EPO) could face suspension from international football due to government interference, should a proposed new sports law be voted in. This development came about as a warning to the Greek federation from both FIFA and UEFA.

The warning was in response to new Greek government regulations aimed at cracking down on violence that typically occurs during these particular sporting events. The government of Greece came up with the new regulations following ongoing problems with football crowd issues.

FIFA and UEFA have their own stringent rules that are designed to protect the independence of their member federations in managing their own affairs. It is in this regard that the two football bodies sent a joint letter to the president of EPO, Giorgos Girtzikis, warning that they would have no option but to refer the case to relevant bodies for immediate sanctions, including the suspension of the Greek Football Federation.
The bill is titled “Measures for the confrontation of violence in Greek sports and other provisions” and is set to undergo initial review from 27-30 April by the cultural affairs committee, before being discussed in parliament on 4-5 May.

Under the new legislation designed to tackle violence in football, the government of Greece is seeking the right to impose high fines, order the postponement or even abandonment altogether of sporting events, as well as prohibit Greek teams from participating in European competitions. The tough new measures also included the possibility of media being fined for showing or inciting violence, as well as jail time for individuals from unrecognized supporters clubs who issue tickets.
Greek deputy minister for education, culture and religious affairs, Stavros Kontonis issued a strongly worded media statement in criticism of FIFA and UEFA. The minister accused both football governing bodies of showing little commitment to resolving issues of violence which have led to the suspension of matches in Greece, 3 times in the past season.

Earlier this month, Greek second-division side AEK Athens was deducted 3 points by the EPO for a pitch invasion carried out by its fans. The team was also ordered to play 2 of its matches behind closed doors and fined 17,000 Euros by the federation’s disciplinary committee. This action was taken following the pitch invasion that occurred during the Greek Cup quarter-final match between Olympiakos and AEK at the Athens Olympic Stadium, with just one minute remaining to end the game.

Kontonis stated that the governing bodies had no interest in solving the problems plaguing Greek football, but were in fact out to offend the constitutional order and people of Greece, especially the football fans who have to contend with the current corruption that the government was endeavoring to change.

He went on to invite FIFA and UEFA to Athens ahead of the planned discussion of the bill. Kontonis expressed his hope that both governing bodies would appreciate the serious, compounding problems facing Greek football so as to actively and constructively engage in the process of transparency, consolidation and democratization.