Everyone knew that he was going to speak about all the problems. Besides, everybody knows that it was Olympiacos that initiated this debate and brought to the fore all the forms of corruption and immorality associated with Greek Football.
Moreover, it was Olympiacos that turned the spotlight on all those that believed that they could continue to operate beyond any control and beyond the limits of the law. In this sense the meeting of the owners of the ‘Big Four’ FCs was an opportunity to state important facts.
The meeting took place in front of UEFA, FIFA and the vice-minister responsible for Sports, Lefteris Avgenakis. And the debate was about the problems of Greek Football with Marinakis making an extensive presentation in from of the representatives of international Federations and Lefteris Avgenakis.
The leading figure of Olympiacos deconstructed the so-called ‘Clean Up’ of Greek Football and stressed the responsibility of all those associated with the problems of Greek Football. H openly attacked the president of the Greek Football Federation (EPO), Vangelis Grammenos, mentioning many examples in regards to what goes on in the Federation.
Marinakis stressed the importance of the multiownership case, and noted that the government cannot step back in the name of political cost calculations. He exposed the inconsistency of the allegations of Ivan Savvidis’s lawyers that Savvidis does not exercise any control upon PAOK. He talked about the ‘ties that bind’ all the member of the Central Refereeing Committee and in particular Pereira and asked for all of them to be replaced.
Here is the full statement of Vangelis Marinakis at the meeting:
Today we haved gathered here to discuss all aspects of the current situation of Greek Football, although unfortunately without specific agenda, with the stated aim of the meeting being to enable UEFA to prolong the presence of persons that have violated their oaths in the Central Refereeing Committee and the Greek Football Federation. Those that invited us here bear a large part of the responsibility for this lack of preparedness.
- First, I want to speak about the mismanagement and lack of transparency that characterizes the current board of Mr. Grammenos’s EPO. EPO collects huge sums from professional football and in particular from Olympiacos: from the percentage of our sales or contracts of players that go to the federation, from the fines that are constantly imposed upon us, and from TV rights. Moreover, EPO receives (and also receives in advance, something that undermines the future of the Federation) huge sums from UEFA and FIFA.
Consequently, I believe that we should all be interested whether these sums of money are being used to further develop Greek Football and its infrastructure or instead they are being spent in clientelistic practices in order to enhance the particular interests of some Clubs and some members of the Executive Committee of EPO.
Recently, it is the second practice that has been taking place. The current administration of EPO has doubled the employees of the federation, by making mass and useless hiring, which did not respond to any new or extra needs, since in fact activity and revenue of EPO have been declining.
In 2015 there were 75 persons employed by EPO and today they are over 150. Total labour cost of running the Federation has increased by more than two million euros (€2,000,000) in comparison to the past and the total increase of operating costs has exceeded 40% during the same period. Moreover, total expenses and fee expenses have risen by €3,500,000,
To this we should add the loss of TV rights because of the incapacity of EPO to sell the TV rights of the Greek Cup, which it had already devalued by making sure that the disgrace and knifings at Volos would lead to two finals taking place without spectators.
The result has been that total Greek Cup TV rights are only €1,000,000, much less than the €9,000,000 that EPO had initially inscribed in its budget and hoped to get in the market.
The significant sums of money that each year are being given by FIFA and UEFA, in the form of various programs aiming that the development of football in the country have also been mismanaged.
The FIFA Forward and UEFA HAtTrick programs that in other countries have been used to fund the construction of football stadiums (Skopje) or training centres (Bulgaria) of the modernization of the football federation that receives the subsidy, have been ‘frozen’ for EPO until today because of mismanagement.
The result of this reckless situation has been that EPO has been forced to apply for loans from abroad (FIFA/UEFA), in order to cover for basic needs, and there has already been a circular which enforced drastic cuts even in important activities of the national teams, and the educational seminars for referees.
On the basis of the above and with all the evidence available Olympiacos FC has filed an official complaint to the Prosecutors and recently we have been informed that a 30-person team, led by two Prosecutors, have acquired the entire records of EPO, physical and digital.
‘Savvidis has acquired influence upon Xanthi FC. I wonder what is he doing here.’
- Secondly, it is impossible for me not to mention that biggest scandal what we have seen in our country, namely that of the PAOK FC and Xanthi FC multiownership case, something explicitly forbidden by UEFA in regards to Clubs taking part in European Tournaments, but also something explicitly forbidden by national football federations in Europe. Only Mr. Grammenos’s EPO not only annulled the multiownership ban last summer but also tried to legitimize it for the sake of Mr. Savvidis.
Mr. Savvidis has acquired influence upon Xanthi FC, when this wife and son’s companies, DIMERA and BELTERRA, through intermediate persons, namely a Cypriot company and Mr. Savvidis’s nephew (his sister’s son, an ex waiter without any professional background), acquired in secret the facilities and the guest house of Xanthi FC, paying around €3,500,000 according to their own statements. Of course all these were kept secret until Olympiacos shed light upon this case, denouncing these practices.
I wonder why Mr. Savvidis is still here! A few days ago, in front of a relevant state committee, Mr. Savvidis’s lawyer stated that Mr. Savvidis is not an owner of PAOK and does not take decisions in PAOK, but only offers advice to his wife and son, as it would be in any patriarchic family.
Consequently, it is Mr Savvidis’s wife who should have been here, since it has been said that she is the persons that makes all the decisions.
We are talking about a scandal that is not about some confrontation between Olympiacos and PAOK. It is about the integrity and the clean character of the championship in our country.
And of course this matters to all the Clubs and all the football fans of this country. And because the evidence is undeniable, since there exist bank transfers of millions from the personal account of the nephew to the company that owns PAOK (DIMERA), bank transfers for income of PAOK players that has not been properly declared, transfers of millions of euros from the Cypriot company that bought the facilities of Xanthi FC to other companies affiliated to the Savvidis family, and also we have the fact that the well known businessmen Panopoulos and Syggelidis remained for over a year and until the complaint by Olympiacos, members of the board of the company owned by Savvidis’s nephew and many other.
And the penalties imposed must be severe in order to send to anyone who might think of replicating such practices the clear message that when you attempt to alter the terms of the game and destroy football, you will be destroyed along with your team, as it is explicit in the law.
That is why I call upon the Minister and the Government to leave aside political cost calculations and all relevant discussions and make sure that both he and the government that he represents are going to defend what is legal. The aim of Mr Savvidis’s Media is well known. They accuse the Minister of a supposed bias in favour of Olympiacos in order to entrap him. And I want to believe that they will not interfere in order to make sure that due process is not followed in the name of political cost. But if there is evidence of such interference, then the Minister should resign.
‘Despite the use of VAR, they do not even try to cover their actions’
- Three months ago, we sent to the Minister but also to FIFA/UEFA a full and detailed letter, of almost 20 pages, with a load of evidence, gathered by special investigators and persons with profound knowledge of football in regards to the repeated cases of wrong referee decisions to the detriment of our Club and other Clubs and, at the same time, in favour of PAOK and Clubs influenced by PAOK.
These have been going on for the last 3 years but now, despite the use of VAR, they do not even try to cover their actions. EPO’s representative at Superleague, Mr. Antoniou, was bold enough to admit that there is Greek referees clearly lack training in the use of VAR, and that they are also under tremendous pressure so that the overwhelming majority of them cannot fulfil their obligations in a proper way.
There was hope that VAR would improve the credibility of referees’ decisions, but they managed to render it unacceptable in a short period of time. And we are talking about a system that had been procured by the Greek State at a great cost after it was suggested by EPO and two employees of EPO, Cholevas and Koukoulakis.
The system has been flawed since its inception (offside line, goal line) despite its increased cost and the referees have never been seriously trained, which immediately led to its complete depreciation. Mr Cholevas and Mr Koukoulakis remain in office, while the Central Refereeing Committee (KED) had the nerve to admit that VAR/AVAR referees are not evaluated for their performance.
‘Referees-tools, purposed and treacherous decisions’
Consequently, the only thing VAR has been able to do is to expose Pereira, the KED and their referee-tools, since with the use of this technology and repeated replay there is no more human error; rather only deliberate and deceptive decisions.
Unfortunately, despite our offering the relevant evidence and documentation, we have not received any response from UEFA / FIFA or the Minister, so far. Following what we have seen in Volos and other cases of unacceptable refereeing either in Aris or AEK or Panathinaikos etc. Mr. Hübel, who is present here, made a clear statement saying:
“Further, it is frustrating to see refereeing errors in the field, despite the Central Refereeing Committee’s investment in referee training and the implementation of VAR, particularly during the Volos vs. Olympiacos match last Sunday, a match that I had the opportunity to watch on television.
[…] Unfortunately, the controversial decisions of the referees in the above mentioned match, both on the field and by the VAR referees, have once again raised scepticism and criticism of the KED, VAR and of refereeing in general in Greece.
[…] This kind of refereeing performance cannot be accepted in any top league, and I am in favor of any exemplary punishment decided by the Central Refereeing Committee.
EVENTUALLY ZERO PUNISHMENT. Incredible behavior by Mr Pereira and his gang.
Despite Mr. Hübel’s above mentioned statement, Mr Pereira just after two rounds appointed these referees to matches of the same already favoured Club, Volos (1st referee Evaggelou) and of the same team that received unfavourable treatment, namely Olympiacos (4th referee Fotiadis) and the referee of that match, Mr. Fotias in the PAOK-Xanthi match.
It is clear that Mr Pereira is not interested in what Mr Hübel, FIFA and UEFA say but is only interested in what Mr. Savvidis is saying or possibly to what he is being offered to make PAOK the only team that has not received unfavourable treatment and has seen the terms of the championship changed in its favour.
In order to have any serious debate on Greek Football, Mr Pereira and the entire KED (Marin, Lindbergh) and Koukoulakis and Tritsonis must leave now. Otherwise Olympiacos will not only participate in any discussion, but will also not continue to participate in this comedy.
The complete disgrace of the credibility of those who determine the outcome of the championship will make – despite our constant efforts- the reaction of Olympiacos fans uncontrollable, since they see in every match their team being ‘ripped off’.
You know very well that sport fans are out of control, and the only way to fight against violence is to ensure the fairness and credibility of those who determine the championship with their decisions.
That is why at least by the end of the championship the two or even the three or four leading teams should have foreign referees in all their matches and not just when they face each other
‘I do not want to know who the Chief Referee will be, as long as he does not have any relation to those that have violated their oaths of office’.
In regards to what has been rumoured about the need for everyone to reach a consensus in regards to the Chief Referee, I don’t even want to have a relationship or even know who he is. I have confidence in UEFA, which selects Chief Referees in European tournaments, to do so here, by putting in this position a man of prestige and experience, a man who has nothing to do with those in EPO that have violated their oaths, and a man who could do his work without any outside influence. This is the only way to talk about a new football tomorrow.
‘I have no personal problem with Alafouzos, Melissanides and Savvidis’
I have no personal problem with Mr. Alafouzos, Mr. Melissanides and Mr. Savvidis. They do what they can for their Clubs, both legal but also illegal or outside the rules. However, I believe that UEFA should stop offering protection to all those in EPO that have violated their oaths by means of:
– the dozens of economic scandals from mass hiring and high salaries to mismanagement and lack of transparency. It is worth noting that Mr. Grammenos instead of running EPO to the benefit of all Greek Football he even tried to strangle the only team that dared to win PAOK FC and to deprive PAOK of some points by not losing even in Toumpa stadium. Mr Grammenos remembered, right after the defeat of PAOK FC by Aris FC to forbid Aris FC from any transfers, by recalling the permit of our player Durmisal in the name of debts of the old Aris FC. This is a corporation that it has already been dissolved according to Greek legislation, something that has already happened with ‘old’ AEK FC, ‘old’ AEL FC, ‘old’ Panionios FC and many others. Until now EPO in written statements accepted that the new Aris FC has nothing to do with the ‘old’ Aris. However, after Aris’s victory over PAOK a ban on transfers was imposed. And this seemed like the least he could do for Mr. Savvidis.
– the scandals with the differential treatment of the same disciplinary cases and the maintenance of a certain immunity for Mr. Savvidis’s son, a member of the board of PAOK and other persons friendly to him, despite their provocative and offending interventions.
– the referees, observers of referees and judges of disciplinary committees whose wives and children are employees in companies owned by the Savvidis family.
– the complete disregard for our national team and the constant changes of highly paid coaches.
– the fact that our country remains the leader in ‘fixed’ matches.
-the local football associations that elect their executives with the use of money in black bags and in the presence of goons and bookmakers.
Gentlemen, this kind of football does not represent us
Olympiacos and I personally stand for improving the football product offered and for the advance of our team on all levels.
Unfortunately, we are the only Greek team with a steady and serious European presence, the only team that tries to help a country that has plunged in European ranking.
Moreover, we the only team that in terms of transfers adds value, both athletic and financial, to the players of the Greek Championship, despite the tragic condition of Greek Football and the national team.
Greek Football has hit rock bottom
You can see from all these that this is not just my personal evaluation of the situation. Evidence speaks for itself and unfortunately it is relentlessly disappointing.
I do believe that even if UEFA leaves Greek Football and stops supporting this situation with the people in KED and EPO that have violated their oath, things in Greek Football could not get any worse. It has already hit rock bottom.
Only radical and immediate changes now stand a chance to transform this rotten system, radical changes at KED, foreign referees at all matches of the four leading teams and radical changes in the system so that there is not relationship between local associations and referees and the election of the Executive Committee and the President of EPO.