By Tony Attwood
We have often referred back to the match fixing scandals in Italy; I thought that maybe to add to the picture we ought to cover match fixing in some other countries too. And I thought I’d start with Greece, where the affair in 2011 was originally called The Koriopolis.
But in case you think this is just a historic review of four years ago, no its not, because there is some very contemporary stuff herein – but I’ll try and take it in order.
The June 2011 affair covered all the topics you will be used to seeing highlighted here including gambling, fraud, extortion and money laundering.
At the time a Uefa report said that 40+ games were fixed in 2009/10, and the Greek Super League chair who also owned Olympiacos, Evangelos Marinakis plus other officials, referees, and a chief of police were implicated. as a result of phone tapping by the authorities – as was the case in Italy.
The case was as you will expect, if you’ve looked at Italian match fixing – asking for specific refs to take certain games. It is something that becomes easier to do if you deliberately restrict the number of people who are registered to take top league games. Just as in, well, not to be too specific, the Premier League.
There was the usual talk, the deputy culture minister spoke of the darkest page in Greek football history, football was said to have reached rock bottom and there were promises to root it all out.
But, I can’t find a record of clubs being banned, people being prosecuted. It seemed to quiet. If you know why, or what I have got wrong in this report, please tell me. I’m absolutely not an expert on Greek football, so don’t bother calling me a prat and telling me I shouldn’t write about stuff I don’t know about. Just help me with the facts.
Anyway, enough of that set of events. Fast forwards to December last year when charges were have brought against 16 people including Evangelos Marinakis, the president of Olympiakos, who have won 16 of the last 18 league titles.
Officials from the Greek football federation and referees were also charged with offences including “setting up, participating in and directing a criminal organisation, fraud, attempted criminal extortion and corruption”.
The investigation centred on the fixing of matches, between 2011 and 2013 (so not the original cases) and involved the same Marinakis, who was previously implicated in another match-fixing scandal in 2010-11 which is seemingly still the subject of investigation (although that seems a bit odd to me). Additionally, although the investigation that brought the charges didn’t consider the affair, just a month before this revelation Greek football was stopped for a week in November after a top refereeing official was attacked outside his home in Athens.
Fast forward again to the end of last month and Evangelos Marinakis was charged by prosecutors with a series of alleged offences. Marinakis denies the charges as do three referees, three other officials from the Hellenic Football Federation, two members of its Central Refereeing Committee and the president of Levadiakos, Yiannis Kobotis. After the hearing his testimony Kobotis and two others were banned from all involvement in the football industry until after the case has been resolved.
Marinakis is accused of being involved in a criminal organisation, of incitement to extortion, of having incited an explosion endangering human life and of the instigation of bribery and corruption aimed at the successful manipulation of football matches offered in betting markets. He denies all four charges.
If found guilty of being involved in a criminal organisation, then Marinakis could go to prison.
But here is the connection with Arsenal. Having won the Greek title this season, Olympiacos have obtained direct qualification to next season’s Champions League group stages and so could play… Arsenal.
Anyway, if you know more, please do let me know.