It has not been quite so long since the revelations about arson at shops and about the throwing of grenades by people linked to the sidelines of football.
Also, not much time has passed since the period of the revelation of the activity of the criminal organisation involved – in which companies owned by the heads of football clubs and key actors in the field of football are implicated – in a case that has been shelved, as no charges have been filed.
It is not by coincidence, of course, that those who led the charge on the cleanup – the people who in theory wanted to change the map of Greek football – and the sinful football federation, are those who are trading recriminations regarding the above cases.
It would be more surprising if all that football is going through lately did not occur. Both AEK President Ivan Savvidis and the “manager” of AEK, Dimitris Melissanidis, each of whom from their vantage point waged the joint battle for a change in status in the Greek Football Federation (EPO), relied on people from the past, whom football had expelled, albeit belatedly.
What was resoundingly proven is that the battle was waged over who will control EPO, refereeing, and the Court of Arbitration, and not over “clean” football.
The two former allies missed the opportunity to preserve appearances, when EPO announced that the referee in the final would not be a Greek.
No answer was ever given by transparent EPO, but those in the know are aware of the fact that the federation was led to this “solution”, as it was unable to satisfy both finalists!
That is how it decided to send a message to the football planet that Greek referees – even international ones who call Champions League, Europa League and World Cup Finals – are either not capable or they are not to be trusted with the Greece Final Cup.
For one to understand the magnitude of the crime, referees employed in Greece from the 1960s to the mid-1970s were foreigners, because it was thought Greek referees were likely to be bought off.
Vangelis Grammenos’ EPO with one move pushed football half a century back.
Last year, the finals between the same finalists were judged by an offside goal, yet that is a mere misdemeanor that happens at times everywhere.
What does not happen anywhere is to conduct the final on an unsuitable field, with unsuitable organisers who for hours observed hooligans of two teams slaughtering each other literally in the bleachers.
The issue is that the incidents in the bleachers – which were of unprecedented extent and tension – took place BEFORE the final, and after.
Of course, in the years of clean-up and cleansing, where aside from bombs and arson we saw guns in plain sight on the field, we realised that Greek football is being held hostage by both the para-state and the state.
This is true from the time that then deputy athletics minister Stavros Kontonis would interrupt the Champions League whenever he liked and would delay the Final Cup for as long as he liked (until referees to his liking were appointed), until today, when the current athletics minister, Yorgos Vasileiadis, following his predecessor’s example, has transformed into his own fiefdom the once self-governed field of football.
EPO President Vangelis Grammenos, whom Ivan Savvidis had publicly called “our man”, never spoke publicly about the picture of the gun-toting president who disgraced the country internationally, showing if nothing else that he suffers along with the drama of his “supporter”.
The fact that the deputy athletics minister needed a few days to utter the name of the pistolero – having previously punished all teams by cutting off the finals – was yet another indication of state intervention in football. Even if this intervention was the least substantial, it was a resounding moment.
Essential interventions in football by those in power are based mainly on the justice angle. The current justice minister after all is the former deputy athletics minister, Stavros Kontonis, on whose watch the groundwork was laid for a “cleanup” that became a joke.
At the time, he did not hesitate to constantly attack EPO over the acts of its then leadership, and he often was right. Still, from the moment he changed his stance after the Federation’s management changed, he displayed his untrustworthiness.
The fact that politics and athletics in Greece are directly linked concepts allows the justice minister to behave like a sheriff, while charges of his implication in athletics cases pile up.
The appointment of the Spanish referee in the Greek Football Club Final, and the announcement of EPO’s decision 48 hours before it began, simply brought to the surface again the totality of the “crimes” of this government and of the Federation’s current management.
P.S. The antics of the cleanup are seen by Girtzikis who laughs, to paraphrase an old Greek saying.