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Football bosses creep into politics

22 May 2014 / 20:05:57  GRReporter
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Two Greek municipalities are set to be led by the management of football teams. The vote of the residents of Piraeus and Volos will determine whether Yiannis Moralis, who is backed up by long-time football champions in Greece Olympiakos, and Ahileas Beos, president of Olympiakos Volos football club, will win the election race, in which they are anyway leading after the first round of local elections.

The news about Olympiakos' vice president and president of the Greek football league running for mayor of the largest port city in Greece was one of the greatest surprises of the local elections. The pre-election formation was established literally days before the expiry of the stipulated period and in addition to Yiannis Moralis, the ballot paper contained the name of Olympiakos' president Vangelis Marinakis.

"Olympiakos is preparing to command in Piraeus" was the most frequent comment in relation to the nomination that nobody expected. Then Olympiakos' long-time vice president Petros Kokkalis was included in the ballot paper as well. Evil tongues say that he is the man behind this first, and at least for now, successful attempt of football bosses to get into politics.

His father Sokratis Kokkalis is the founder of INTRACOM company that has developed into a holding company over the years and expanded in many European countries, including Bulgaria. The company produces various kinds of electronics, from slot machines for the former state lottery OPAP to defence systems.

Vangelis Marinakis in turn is a ship owner and businessman. He redeemed Olympiakos football club and became its president in 2010 and he was also president of the Greek Football League and vice president of the Football Federation.

In the second election round on Sunday Yiannis Moralis will compete with former mayor of Piraeus Vassilis Michaloliakos who is supported by New Democracy. After the vote last Sunday, the conflict between them has intensified even more. In statements to the media, Michaloliakos points out that Moralis’ success is due to the fact that organized members of Golden Dawn voted for him to be elected. "I am convinced that there was a central order for that," states Piraeus' recent mayor, adding that he and other candidates were threatened by "security guards" at a polling station, in the presence of Vangelis Marinakis.


From left to right: Petros Kokkalis, Sokratis Kokkalis, Yiannis Moralis, Vangelis Marinakis

According to Michaloliakos, Marinakis and Kokkalis are the true leaders of the formation, who are using him as a "shop-front". He added that if Moralis were elected, the actual mayor of Piraeus would be Vangelis Marinakis.

The sudden interest on the part of Olympiakos' bosses in entering politics has provoked many reactions on social networks., where pictures and alleged conversations between them have appeared, expressing the voters’ opinions of the individuals in question.

In one picture Vangelis Marinakis asks Sokratis Kokkalis, "Boss, why have you never run for mayor of Piraeus?" to get the following answer, "I was Prime Minister, you idiot."

In addition to Moralis the ballot also includes former players and associates of Olympiakos.

At the same time, on Monday Volos will probably wake up to Ahileas Beos in the mayoral chair. Besides being president of the local football club, Olympiakos Volos, he is known for his involvement in the match-fixing scandal. Beos was found guilty in the case and he spent more than a year in prison. Then subsequently he continued his career in football and is now preparing to take over politics at the local level. It is worth noting that his relationships with Vangelis Marinakis are notoriously bad.

According to local sources, Beos enjoys secret support from Golden Dawn, and even three of the party supporters have already managed to become part of the new municipal council.
The good electoral results of the far right have excited even the appetite of the radical left. The SYRIZA candidate for mayor of Athens did not hesitate to call on the voters of Golden Dawn to support him, having previously stated that he does not believe that they are all fascists.

As expected, his action has provoked an avalanche of reactions and comments, and once again inspired leading Greek caricaturists.

"What "To Potami" is doing is silly nonsense. It would be a turning point in humour if Golden Dawners make one of their supporters talk about his first time with sweet expectation in his voice. About the first time he will vote for SYRIZA," reads the comment by Dimitris Handzopoulos in Ta Nea newspaper.

Ilias Makris’ caricature in Kathimerini newspaper depicts SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras asking Sakellaridis, who is holding a rod, "How are you getting along, Gabriel?" A banana hangs on the hook and two hands with a tattoo of the neo-Nazis sign are trying to reach it from below.

Tags: PoliticsLocal electionsOlympiakosFootball bossesVangelis MarinakisAhileas BeosGolden DawnSYRIZATo Potami
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