FIFA and UEFA sent an ultimatum to Greece that the country’s national football team and domestic clubs run the risk of being excluded from international competitions if the legislative bill to combat corruption and hooliganism in all the country’s sports, proposed by Deputy Sports Minister Stavros Kontonis, is passed.
The international football federations consider the SYRIZA-led government’s proposed bill as interfering in the autonomy of the Hellenic Football Federation (EPO), the governing body for football. Jerome Valcke and Gianni Infantino, the general secretaries of FIFA and UEFA respectively, warned Greece earlier today. Infantino hoped that the threat will make the Greek government reconsider its actions in regards to the autonomy of sports, “so we can still work together to resolve the issues affecting Greek football.” Football’s governing bodies have strict rules protecting their member federations’ independence to run their own affairs, thus teams and officials from suspended countries cannot take part in international matches and meetings.
FIFA’s and UEFA’s primary objections lie on the bill’s provisions giving state authorities the right to ban Greek clubs from international competitions, forcing teams to implement e-tickets, suspend matches suspected of bet-fixing, appoint a special football prosecutor and perform tax bureau audits for referees. Although, EPO agreed on the government’s initiative to tackle violence and allowed the Deputy Sports Minister to impose fines on clubs whose fans were responsible for any trouble.
On his behalf, Kontonis appeared confident that the government will proceed with the proposed bill despite the international bodies’ objections. “Where public money is involved, no one can be excluded from control. We want self-rule, but all sports federations will be monitored and managed in a uniform manner, with no exceptions,” he said.
It should be noted that in late February, the Greek government decided the temporary suspension of all national professional sports championships due to violent incidents that have stigmatized the country. The suspension followed violence at a league match between fierce rivals Olympiakos Piraeus and Panathinaikos Athens. This was the third time within the current season Greek professional championships were suspended due to football-related violence.