Sat, Jun 20, 2015 - Page 18 News List

Greek soccer champions’ owner banned over graft

Reuters, ATHENS

Vangelis Marinakis, owner of Greek champions Olympiakos Piraeus, has been banned from soccer as an investigation continues into allegations that a criminal organization is controlling the domestic game.

According to judicial sources, the shipping magnate has also been ordered to report to police every 15 days on strict bail terms.

Marinakis was released on bail of 200,000 euros (US$228,240) after giving testimony to Athens prosecutor George Andreadis in a seven-hour hearing.

The Olympiakos president is accused of being involved in and directing a criminal organization, aiding and abetting blackmailing, aiding and abetting extortion, and aiding and abetting bribery and fraud.

Marinakis must now quit as president of Olympiakos, but he can retain ownership of the company that runs the club.

He later released a statement via the club’s Web site.

“I want to assure the supporters of Olympiakos that today’s decision has no impact on our team,” he said.

“I remain the major shareholder and guarantor of the future of our Olympiakos,” Marinakis added.

“After the board meeting scheduled for Monday, we will announce decisions on our plans for the 2015-2016 season, for which have already been designed and launched with the aim of winning the Greek championship and enjoying a great run in the Champions League,” he said.

The development could have serious ramifications for the Super League winners, who are due to take part in next season’s Champions League.

According to media reports, runners-up Panathinaikos and third-placed PAOK Salonika have prepared complaints to organizers UEFA that question whether Olympiakos should be allowed to compete in Europe.

SARRIS SCANDAL

Marinakis’ hearing came 24 hours after former Hellenic Football Federation (EPO) president Giorgos Sarris was banned from the sport and ordered to remain in the nation as part of his bail terms.

Sarris, president of the EPO from October 2012 to December last year, was released on bail of 50,000 euros. He denies all accusations.

He faces charges including constituting and directing a criminal organization, fraud, blackmail and bribery.

The latest Greek soccer scandal, following the “Koriopolis” match-fixing probe of 2011, emerged in April when a 173-page document was revealed by prosecutor Aristidis Korreas and prompted a nationwide investigation.

Korreas’ document contained transcriptions of telephone tapping operated by the Greek National Intelligence Service.

It is alleged that Marinakis and EPO officials Sarris and Theodoros Kouridis were responsible for directing a criminal organization since 2011 with the aim of “absolute control of Greek football’s fate by the methods of blackmailing and fraud.”

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