Not long ago we had written that if Thodoris Zagorakis is elected president of EPO (the Hellenic Football Federation) but the executive committee is packed with the 11 yokel presidents of regional federations that are controlled by AEK FC and PAOK FC, then Thodoris would not have a say even regarding the work schedule of the cleaning staff.

The person who holds the position of Executive Secretary of EPO, a position that FIFA and UEFA in their comprehensive report described as “key”, as he effectively manages day-to-day affairs in EPO, will have complete control over the management of its services.  He will effectively wield complete authority over the actions that are necessary to upgrade Greek football.

What did Zagorakis do as regards this position, which is crucial in determining EPO’s future and the success or failure of his term as president?

He said, “I am not nominating anyone (after all do you think I call the shots?). I am leaving this meeting and Panagiotis Demetriou can handle the nomination.”

Demetriou is a familiar figure since last year’s finals cup in Rizoupolis. For 20 years he was president of the association of Athens’ clubs and his activity has preoccupied prosecutors. He is the alter ego of Thomas Mitropoulos and is trusted by Dimitris Melissanidis.

Now, Zagorakis authorised Demetriou to appoint his own personal pick for one of the most important positions in EPO. Effectively, he let Melissanidis use Demetriou to appoint Iakovos Filippousis to the post of Executive Secretary.

We will bypass the issue of how Zagorakis, who was elected as a European Parliament member on ruling New Democracy’s ticket, will be able  to cooperate with left-wing Filippousis, who until recently was a director for Stavros Kontonis a former Minister of Sports in the SYRIZA government. They can sort that out on their own.

Illegal act

What is there to say about this illegal and null and void move of Zagorakis and the Executive Committee, which is comprised of local yokels?

It is simply illegal and contravenes EPO’s charter for the president to be present but to allow Demetriou to nominate the Executive Secretary.

In order for that to fly Zagorakis had to make himself a laughing stock by leaving the meeting and not participating in the crucial vote (indeed, when did you have time to become so charmed by your position Thodoris?).

Not only did Zagorakis leave the meeting before the vote, but he will be absent from key decisions more generally as he has declared that he will make no nominations for any post in EPO.

The procedures followed were rigged and were reminiscent of the times when there was a total lack of transparency, as Executive Committee members had to blindly vote for the candidate that will fill the position because they lacked even basic information about the candidate (CV, education, etc.) that they were asked to vote in or reject.

Iakovos Filippousis as director of EPO’s communications was ineffective – according to FIFA General Secretary Fatma Samoura – and those FIFA officials had recommended radical changes.

Zagorakis knew that this was a person that neither the government nor UEFA and FIFA accepted or recognised as an interlocutor.

This is all the more true given the fact that they know that because of the illegal procedure in electing Filippousis all his decisions and any document he signs will be null and void.

We believe that the healthy forces in Greek football – beginning with the Superleague and its president, Leonidas Boutsikaris (who left the Executive Committee meeting in protest over the procedure followed in electing the Executive Secretary) will not let this stand, as it is professional football above all that is harmed by such practices.

Therefore, the Superleague has no choice but to move to annul a decision that disgraces Greek football if it wants to guard what is left of the credibility of the sport.

If Melissanidis as owner of AEK FC and his courtiers had been successful in their course in football one might have had reason to say that they would be able to help EPO succeed.

However, AEK has ended up being – according to the club’s own fans – the laughing stock of Greek football, both on the European level (it participated in the Champions League and failed to garner a single point!) and domestically.

This year alone it was trounced not only by OIympiakos (1-5, 3-0, etc.), but also by teams of lesser potential such as Aris, Atromitos, Volos, Yannina, Apollonas Smyrnis, and even Asteras Tripolis.

Fans charge

Let us not even discuss how the current management of AEK has managed to disgrace the team more generally – either with scenes of fans charging on the players on the field when the “administrative leader” of AEK had already left in order to escape their outcry, or with Melissanidis’s violent acts against foreign referees, among other absurd events.

Let us not discuss the EPO of Demetriou and the other yokel presidents and how they managed to lead people to heap scorn on national teams of all age brackets and in general on Greek football, which has been internationally stigmatised by mismanagement, the squandering of funds, the steep salaries of cronies, and illegal favours such as compensation to people like Yannakis.

According to EPO’s Ethics Committee, the only thing that Melissanidis, Yannakis Papadopoulos, and Executive Committee member Angelos Daniil are good at is know-how in improperly influencing elections in federations, bribery, and violent acts.

That is all they know how to do, but not so well, as it seems that their modus operandi has been detected and is being probed by the regular judges of the Ethics Committee, who have collected the depositions of over 50 witnesses.

Already, a recommendation has been issued regarding a lifelong banning from football of all implicated parties (and of all those who will be proven to have been implicated, as Filippousis was an onlooker as the same cast of characters acted), regarding the docking of points from AEK, and regarding the imposition of enormous fines for the culprits.

Why then, Thodoris, did you in your maiden appearance at an EPO Executive Committee meeting violate its charter so that Dimitris Melissanidis could engineer the appointment of Filippousis to the post of Executive Secretary?

He is a mere pawn serving AEK’s interests and will ineluctably steer EPO and Greek football – including the team of the “Tiger” Melissanidis’s heart – toward a total shipwreck.

Why, Thodoris, did you have to begin your term as the president of EPO with an illegal decision and the appointment an illegal Executive Secretary all of whose decisions will be null and void?

Especially since neither the Greek authorities not UEFA want or will want to have Iakovos Filippousis as an interlocutor, since that have always considered him to be untrustworthy.

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