We have seen it all from the EPO. But for him to issue an aggressive announcement-response and admit that he has done nothing of what he was shouting... it is magic!

Just when we thought we had seen everything from the Hellenic Football Federation… it now issued an aggressive announcement-response admitting that it had done nothing concerning what it was clamoring about is nothing short of magic!

One doesn’t expect something better. From the Hellenic Football Federation, from Steve Bennett, from Takis Baltakos. This communication mechanism is fighting to change the agenda or the real issue. However, no matter earnest the attempt to hide the intentions under the carpet of the communication attack on Olympiacos, it is important for the Federation and its system to speak up. Because every time they speak, every time they make an announcement, saying they want to address all issues, they are exposed. And what is really happening is revealed. And of course their intentions, as we said.

The Federsation’s “machine”, therefore, in an (not) unprecedented burst of honesty, or even audacity, issued a statement to explain to the world what happened in the case of the Prime Minister’s communication with UEFA, but also in general what is the issue with elite referees. Without realizing that it reveals what the Federation has NOT done for the said refs to come. Or it may have been done on purpose, either as a show of power or simply for reasons of… stupidity. What is certain is that the Federation admitted this: Until Tuesday, neither Baltakos, nor the Federation itself institutionally, nor Chief Referee Bennett had any institutional contact with UEFA to offer assistance in the matter of the arrival of more elite-level referees in the playoffs.

Of course, the fact that the Federation is lying is nothing new. But here we are not dealing with the whims of a president, a general secretary, or a system. We are dealing with issues related to the claim within the league, for which the four biggest teams in Greece are fighting. How is it, then, that it constantly appears from the side of the Federation that Steve Bennett is in constant communication with UEFA, but has not raised the issue of the arrival of good referees? How is it that the Englishman himself said in the meeting with the 6 owners that he has reported the elite referee who nominated himself to direct derbies in the playoffs to the European Federation, but has not asked for the assistance, the aid of this man’s institutional superiors?


Mockery has now reached another level. And it would be good for UEFA and FIFA to come to Greece, under whatever pretext. Because its emissaries will hear interesting stories. And their position on what is happening in Greece will be of great interest. For example, it will be funny how Bennett, Baltakos and the whole of this… “pristine” system will explain why, while refereeing in Greece is essentially under the control of UEFA, the Central Refereeing Committee, and therefore must be composed of foreigners, they themselves decided to put Stavros Mandalos out of the blue in the informal position of vice president. A position that enables him to have complete information about all the correspondence and contacts of the Central Refereeing Committee and its president, with Federations and referees.

Until now we heard from the various official and unofficial Federation sources that «UEFA has informed us about the reluctance of elite referees to come to Greece». Of course, apart from Yiannis Alafouzos, who said so at the recent meeting, no one else seems to have spoken to the European Federation. And this is yet another resounding blow to Bennett’s (non-existent) credibility as Central Refereeing Committee president. As the Hellenic Federation itself confirms, by March 28, 2023, no action had been taken as concerns UEFA or any of the members of the European Federation’s referee committee. In short, on one knew anything. No one. Therefore, it’s all a fairy tale.


And the cherry topping? This is «hidden» in the last paragraph of the Hellenic Federation HISTORICAL admission, that it did nothing all these months. Therefore, the Federation reports: «g) In the afternoon of the same day and after sending the letter of the President of the Hellenic Football Federation, the order was given to the relevant bodies of UEFA to contact Mr. Bennett to provide the relevant assistance requested by the President of the Hellenic Federation». What is Baltakos and the writer of the announcement telling us here? That UEFA who was being falsely accused all this time as being unwilling to help bring in elite referees, GAVE AN ORDER for their Refereeing Committee to contact Bennett. As the latter probably hasn’t even sent… regards to Rossetti and the other heads of UEFA! Such reluctance!

To conclude. UEFA’s monumental announcement is solid proof that what Olympiacos has been saying all this time is the absolute truth: that in fact none of those involved in Greek refereeing WANT to bring in good referees. How everything is done with specific targeting. So that the referees that come from the pits Europe, can make even Greeks referees seem good. So they let people like Dabanovic and Kellet come, to mess things up, to adulterate the championship. All this by chance, but with specific beneficiaries.


If Mr. Bennett and his supporters don’t know they could call at UEFA, let’s have a look at the following, so as not to be caught unawares. Because it seems that the Hellenic Federation’s contact with UEFA at the refereeing level is only imaginary. And it is questionable, how it is possible that it does not even have formal contact with 6 members of the Refereeing Committee, the 24 members of the general assembly and the 15 officials of the UEFA Development Committee. Hell, one of them would help Bennett find a formal contact. But alas…



* UEFA REFEREE COMMITTEE MEMBERS: Dagmar Damkova (CZE/ UEFA Referee Officer), Björn Kuipers (NED/ UEFA Referee Officer), Vladimir Sajn (SVN/ UEFA Referee Officer), Carlos Velasco Carballo (ESP, UEFA Referee Officer)

* MEMBERS OF THE UEFA ARBITRATION ASSEMBLY: Vladimir Antonov (Moldova), Neale Barry (England), Francesco Bianchi (Switzerland), Nuno Castro (Portugal), Alexandru Deaconu (Romania), Stephanie Forde (Belgium), Gyöngyi Krisztina Gaál (Hungary), Terje Hauge (Norway), Peter Hegyi (Hungary), Werner Helsen (Belgium), Sokol Jareci (Albania), Michael Johansen (Denmark), Ingrid Jonsson (Sweden), Leonid Kaloshin (Russia), Costas Kapitanis (Cyprus), Jørn West Larsen (Denmark), Gerard Perry (Republic of Ireland), Alain Sars (France), Charles Schaack (Luxembourg), Katia Senesi (Italy), Yariv Teper (Israel), John Ward (Republic of Ireland), Rainer Werthmann (Germany) , Alan Snoddy (UEFA appointment)

UEFA REFEREE DEVELOPMENT COMMITTEE: Frank De Bleeckere (Belgium), David Elleray (England), Herbert Fandel (Germany), José Fontelas Gomes (Portugal), Lutz Fröhlich (Germany), Pascal Garibian (France), Bo Karlsson (Sweden), Nikolay Levnikov (Russia), Luís Medina Cantalejo (Spain), Jenny Palmqvist (Sweden), Mike Riley (England), Gianluca Rocchi (Italy), Bibiana Steinhaus-Webb (England), Jaap Uilenberg (Netherlands), Kyros Vassaras (Greece) .

INSTEAD OF THE EPILOGUE: I am ignoring the fact that the Central Refereeing Committee sent a Portuguese referee to Georgios Karaiskakis stadium, just a month after the loss caused by (also Portuguese) Pineiro in the derby with Panathinaikos. And I stand by the choice of referee Kulbakov in PAOK-AEK. Who indeed, is a member of the elite category. Only on paper. Because he has actually refereed a Champions League game since that historic 1-1 Sevilla-Salzburg draw on 14 September 2021, when he conceded four penalties in the first half (a record in the history of European competitions) – three for the Austrians – and dismissed without say En-Nesiri of the Spaniards in the 50th minute!

UEFA has since punished him and even removed him from the Champions League qualifiers. In fact, they gave him one more chance in Olympiacos-Eindracht Frankfurt 1-2 (04/11/2021), but he was still tacitly punished for his refereeing in the match (more typical is the non-sentencing of Barkok in the 32nd minute, in a “criminal” tackle on Reamchiuk). While… the so-called elite Kulbakov, this year has managed 2 group games and 1 qualifying Europa League, 1 group and 1 qualifying Conference League and Cyprus-Greece 1-0 (24/09/2022) for the 3rd division groups of the Nations League. Not exactly… elite qualifications.

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