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All football matches suspended in Greece after a referee beating

15 November 2014 / 20:11:25  GRReporter
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The attack on the Vice President of the Central referee Committee Christoforos Zografos outside his home on Thursday evening has led to immediate consequences.

The Hellenic Football Federation has decided to postpone indefinitely all matches from Monday, and the president of the Olympiakos football club Evangelos Marinakis said that to his knowledge, Dimitris Melissanidis, the owner of AEK Athens Football Club, is connected to the attack.

Christoforos Zografos, who was appointed to the Referee Committee just 40 days ago, was hospitalized with skull and wrist fractures. According to his relatives, he will undergo hand surgery on Monday. The attack on Zografos is part of a series of assaults against Referee Committee or Hellenic Football Federation members, but this time the response and consequences are apparently much harsher.

Christoforos Zografos,

Olympiakos president Marinakis appeared at the planned meeting of the Super League’s Board and accused Melissanidis, linking him with the beating. He said that Melissanidis had spoken with Zografos himself, as well as with the President of the Football Federation Giorgos Sarris, demanding that one of the four referees he proposed be appointed to matches of his club – something Marinakis said had not happened. He appealed that police and prosecutors intervene for a quick resolution of the case.

Panathinaikos Vice President Vassilis Constantinou said that such attacks had occurred in the past, but had never triggered this level of response.

The Federation convened an extraordinary meeting of its Executive Board. It decided not to appoint referees to games, which in practice leads to the postponement of all league matches at national and local levels. As announced, the Board has unanimously stood behind Sarris’ proposal, and have demanded that society and clubs take the necessary measures to protect all participants in Greek football. The Federation is now awaiting the decisions of presidents and owners of clubs from both professional leagues.

It is noteworthy, however, that the Federation president Sarris, who was hand-picked by Marinakis, has not informed his colleagues and neither confirmed nor denied the allegations that Melissanidis had put pressure on him. He chose to limit himself to blaming journalists.

The allegations of the Olympiakos president provoked a reaction from Panathinaikos. In a statement, they said: "The Panathinaikos Football Club and its president have always been at the forefront of the fight to clean up Greek football. We strongly condemn yesterday's unfortunate event, which however may not be used by criminally investigated individuals.

We blame the government for the criminal tolerance it has afforded, over so many years, to the growing crime in football. Tolerance now comes across as complicity. We urge our justice system to accelerate its work towards curbing the upsurge of criminality."

Dimitris Melissanidis has also responded by saying "I've been following with great interest the pathetic attempts by Mr. Marinakis to clean up the dirt in Greek football. Those who are called to account before the court and prosecution in the investigation of an organised criminal group in football; those accused of extortion, bribery, beatings and explosions; those who have stifled any attempt at healthy competition and have given a bad name to football in our country, now have the audacity to talk about ethics, values and progress. "

Another Greek football club, Macedonian PAOK, has also voiced their disagreement with Marinakis’ allegations.


Tags: football beating referee postponing matches
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