UEFA not only has the answer vis-à-vis the controversial play in the 52nd minute of the match between AEK Athens and Aris Thessaloniki; it also exposes the perilous ineptitude of the Greek Football Association (EPO) and its Central Refereeing Committee (KED).
A shakeup at the top of the table of Greece’s Super League has witnessed AEK Athens taking advantage of another misstep by Panathinaikos Athens, with the former now replacing the latter in first place, midway through the second half of the regular season.
Nevertheless, while an entire “system” is trying to persuade us that we’re watching a tremendously competitive championship, one replete with suspense and comebacks, and showcasing, as one of its successes, that four teams are contenders for the title, its actual reflection is distorted.
AEK didn’t overtake Panathinaikos at the top of the standings because the “Greens” were defeated in an away game against Asteras Tripoli.
It achieved this by overcoming Aris in yet another match where a major officiating mistake altered the final result; when the score was 1-0 in favor of AEK in the 52nd minute and when its goalkeeper, Giorgos Athanasiadis – obviously without intent –brought down Aris defender Fabiano Leismann in AEK’s penalty area with a hard knee strike. This was a classic case of a penalty violation, one however, that wasn’t awarded by second-tier Portuguese referee Luis Godinho, or by the video assistant referee (VAR), André Narciso.
Were only words exchanged? No way
“Regarding the incident in the 52nd minute of yesterday’s match between AEK and ARIS, I received messages and phone calls from various sides, with conflicting interests. This is the reason I contacted KED, as I cannot personally assess a disputed call, nor is this my role. I received an answer from KED by which there was no violation on the part of AEK, because: the goalkeeper first deflected the ball and then collided with the attacking (opposing) player. The attacker didn’t try to play the ball. The goalkeeper was focused on the ball and not on the attacker, and the subsequent collision was unavoidable.”
The statement and assertions belong to none other than EPO President Takis Baltakos – the “president of all the teams”, as he likes to call himself, possibly in an uninspiring attempt at humor.
A question arises: is there an “institutional aspect” to the EPO president’s involvement with …KED’s press office? Obviously, no.
Has head referee Steve Bennett taken some sort of “oath” that he won’t talk again about his work until the end of the season, and that Takis Baltakos will represent him, in his capacity as an attorney? This isn’t out of the question, but it’s not probable.
What’s certain is that the EPO president rushed to protect the head referee; and both of them rushed to support an officiating call that determined the AEK-ARIS game. Lest we forget, it was 1-0 in the 52nd minute, and if Aris had equaled the score, no one could predict the final outcome.
What’s also certain is that Takis Baltakos, and possibly Steve Bennett, have no clue as to refereeing regulations. This isn’t just our conclusion; UEFA has stated this in the most “official” manner.
Here’s instructional material (DVD 2021:2) sent to all its federations to ensure the unified implementation of game regulations by all referees.
This play (F14) doesn’t need any translation. This is what’s happening…
UEFA says it’s a penalty and a yellow card.
To be precise, it refers to the penalty as a “technical violation”, and the “yellow card” as a disciplinary action.
Here’s what happened at the OPAP Arena in New Philadelphia:
Head referee Steve Bennett, via the EPO president, said it wasn’t a penalty.
This is where things get interesting. Are Greek referees given the proper instruction by Bennett and his “other half” – in terms of instruction – Stavros Mantalos?
And if instruction is provided, what does he say about such instances? That it’s not a penalty?
Therefore, as if their own inadequacy isn’t enough, are they also “training” other refs in such ineptitude?
If this is the case, they’re not only «irrelevant» but also «dangerous». And in a championship league that’s on “fire”, competitively, their manner can ignite “uncontrolled fires”.
Does UEFA, however, know what Bennett says about this particular play? Did he find out about this disputed call at the New Philadelphia field? That’s a very interesting question.