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December 2020

Wholesale corruption, 20 charged by police, Uefa nepotism. Yep it’s the Champions League

By Tony Attwood

Olympiakos are top of the Greek league.  They have played 13 and won 13.   Their owner and president is accused of being involved in and directing a criminal organization, aiding and abetting blackmailing, aiding and abetting the creating of explosions, aiding and abetting bribery and fraud.   He is currently out on bail of 200,000 euros and has to report to the police station every 15 days.

25 senior football people including club owners and refs are accused of various crimes in Greece, but meanwhile football goes on.   Here’s the league table – you may draw your own conclusions.

Pos Team P W D L F A G.D. Pts
1 13 13 0 0 38 8 +30 39
2 13 8 2 3 22 11 +11 26
3 13 8 1 4 18 11 +7 22
4 13 6 4 3 23 18 +5 22
5 13 7 1 5 18 13 +5 22
6 13 6 3 4 16 15 +1 21
7 13 5 3 5 16 15 +1 18
8 13 5 3 5 12 15 -3 18
9 13 4 5 4 13 16 -3 17
10 13 3 6 4 11 12 -1 15
11 13 4 2 7 16 23 -7 14
12 13 3 5 5 8 12 -4 14
13 13 3 4 6 14 24 -10 13
14 13 3 1 9 9 16 -7 10
15 13 1 4 8 11 22 -11 7
16 13 1 4 8 11 25 -14 7

On June 30, UEFA’s General secretary Gianni Infantino stated that Olympiakos could keep their place in the Champions League for the time being, but how long that time being is, has not been resolved.   Infantino’s deputy Theodore Theodoridis is the son of the vice-president of Olympiakos.  Olympiakos have won the title in 17 of the past 19 seasons.

A fair match with no question of anything amiss?

Olympiakos apart from having a reputation of being in the mire when it comes to corruption, have a reputation for being able to soak up pressure.  So the tactics tonight could be interesting.  We saw Arsenal do it in the FA cup away to Man U, defend, defend, defend, score a couple.  Thus to counter this we need the counter-counter attack approach.  Maybe no one will touch the ball at all.  Maybe no one will even kick off.

For years we have been told by the press that Arsène Wenger’s record of being in the second phase for 15 years is of no consequence.  Winning is all that matters.   Today the Telegraph suggests that it would be a major blow to his position if Arsenal don’t go through.  The club would still have the second consecutive longest run in the Champs League in history – second by one year only to Real Madrid.  Above Barcelona.  Above Bayern.   And Wenger’s position will be damaged!

Back to the match.  In such circumstances it makes sense to think about leaving Theo on the bench until the hour, in order to let his speed attack an ever defending team when they are a trifle tired.  But on the other hand he could be used on the wing to create mayhem.  Also given that they never lose they will be a bit surprised to be playing a team that actually hasn’t decided to lie down and die – although of course we don’t know if they have got at the ref.

Meanwhile the Independent paper says, “In a season dominated by an injury list currently growing faster the Greece’s national debt…” and really one might as well give up there.   Arsenal are not even top of the injury list (see my last article) so what is the excuse for such gibberish?   “Well, it’s Arsenal,” I was told.  “We always knock Arsenal”.

I read on.  “Failure will send the club hurtling into a Europa League draw alongside the European flotsam and jetsam of Molde, Sion and Krasnodar.”   So no bias in the writing there then.  “We always knock Arsenal.”  How true.

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Oympiakos have no injuries at all.  Not one.  Not a single solitary one.  No opposition player ever dares touch them.   And how do you explain that?  I leave you to imagine what Greek Super League games are like.  (A lot of those people now on trial are referees).  Here’s our team.


Bellerin, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal;

Ramsey, Flamini;

Campbell, Ozil, Oxlade-Chamberlain;


So any weak spots?   Well, maybe the ref.   Maybe the Olympiakos goalkeeper will be a bit off, as he seemed to be against Bayern Munich.

Esteban Cambiasso might try and decapitate Mesut Ozil and be sent off in the first minute.

“We plan to fight for this point we need in order to qualify. We have the advantage of playing home where we have the support of our fans,” said the Olympiakos manager.

Arsenal to win 3-0.

Some more anniversaries

  • 9 December 2000: Arsenal 5 Newcastle 0; A Parlour hattrick helped Arsenal maintain second place but they were still six points behind the leaders, Man U.
  • 9 December 2001: Arsenal 3 Aston Villa 2.  League match 15 of the third Double season.  After going four games without a win Arsenal had now won three in a row, three points behind the leaders, Liverpool.  Wiltord scored the first and Henry got the other two.

Meanderings from the History Society….


48 comments to Wholesale corruption, 20 charged by police, Uefa nepotism. Yep it’s the Champions League

  • Yeah, Tony. 3-0, 3-1, 3-2, 2-0…Whatever the final score. As long as we qualify, nothing else matters to me. Backing the boys all the way in this. C’mon guys, let’s do this! I know you can, YOU know you can!

  • Usama Zaka

    Good summary about Olympiacos’ “Football” Tony. The Greek Super League sounds more like “Everyone, here is your part of the dough and now let us score and win. Also if you dare touch us there will be consequences and just score late on to make it look little bit of fair”

    Anyhow, about the referees today, it raises more than a question. Before that I would like to talk a little about the Pierluigi Colina from Italy. He is currently the UEFA Head of Referees for quite sometime. He has been awarded the “worlds best referee” 6 times by IFFHS (Walter and Don can provide their insight on this). He is one of the only two refs to have escaped from any sort of charge, accusations, trial, punishment, or allegations during the Italian League Match Fixing Scandal “Calciopoli in 2006”. Even more surprising is that he retired from refereeing at the end of that season in 2006. All in all it can said that he is the “God Father” of the refereeing world right now.

    With that summary over, lets proceed to the refs today.

    Ref: Nicola Rizzoli (Italy)
    1st Asst: Elenito Di Liberatore (ITA) (Same assistant in our game against Bayern away)
    2nd Asst: Mauro Tonolini (ITA) (Same assistant in our game against Bayern away)
    4th official: Andrea Padovan (ITA) (Same 4th official in our game against Bayern away)
    Additional 1st Asst ref: Antonio Damato (ITA) (Same assistant in our game against Bayern away)
    Additional 2nd Asst ref: Davide Massa (ITA)

    So out of the Six referees on the pitch we have received 4 of the same refs in our previous away game in Champions League against Bayern. Another surprising thing is that out of so many different refs from different Euro countries how come we have been appointed same refs from Italy in two consecutive highly important away games ?!?!

    And mind you that if Pierluigi Colina is the God Father of referees in Europe then right now Nicola Rizzoli is his first in command Captain. Rizzoli is referee currently on cover page of the FIFA laws of the game book. Want to know one of Juventus’ secret ingredient to their 4 consecutive title success in Italy ? Ans – Nicola Rizzoli. I watch Serie A from time to time, mostly the night matches cause they are often main events and Rizzoli will be 80% involved in a big club matches (Juventus, Roma, Milan, Inter, Fiorentina, Napoli) I have rarely seen this man work in a fair manner. Its mostly to help a specific club greatly during a short period of time.

    Finally I will say Mike Riley will surely be looking to jump at the UEFA’s head of refs position if Colina stands down (which he won’t).

  • Gord

    Maybe something to add Usama? 🙂

    Our referee has been at the highest level. He apparently has the skills. Some good things written about him, and some questionable things. What do we find today?

    Graham Poll about our referee in the Daily Mail from an England game:

    > I was left wondering how fair the Italian was to Roy Hodgson’s side. England had two players cautioned: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Ashley Young.

    > Both were deserved yellow cards for late and reckless challenges. Not one of the French players was booked, despite several cynical fouls designed to halt England’s momentum.

    A twit about our referee, in a World Cup context:

    > Nicola Rizzoli leading the final. His third match of #ARG. Only FIFA can come up with something like that, #BlatterOut

    Luke Shaw probably doesn’t think much of our referee’s ability to recognize a foul (Sept 2015):
    > The Mexican’s right foot nicked the ball, but his left foot hit the trailing right leg of Shaw. The Italian referee, Nicola Rizzoli, saw no foul, no recklessness and obviously no intent to damage an opponent.

    The NYTimes continues with this comment on the Shaw injury:
    > On Tuesday, two former World Cup referees, Howard Webb and Graham Poll, differed in their opinion about the that call Rizzoli made. Webb, the referee during the World Cup final in 2010, said on television that it was not a red card foul. Poll wrote in The Daily Mail: “His leading leg might have touched the ball but the way he entered into the challenge — at pace and off the ground — he had no control over his actions.”

    > Webb would not have punished the tackle at all, while Poll saw it as a red card violation. And both former referees had the benefit of slow-motion replay, which Rizzoli did not.

    Jekyll and Hyde it seems to me.


  • Andrew Crawshaw

    U19s one goal down on 11 minutes

  • Gord

    Thanks for the wake-up Andrew!

  • Andrew Crawshaw

    37 mins and Olympiacos double their lead. Crowley given no chance leading to a turnover in our half then a great through ball and calm finish past Keto. We are second best all over the pitch at the moment and are struggling to get out of our half. Not looking good. COYG!

  • Al

    Really? Thanks guys. I’ve always felt Arsenal get more of a raw deal than in the premiership (I think we get the softest red cards I’ve ever seen on a football pitch anywhere), and when you know a bit of history like you guys provided it starts to make sense.
    After watching the panorama documentary on Fifa this week I think following football with one’s heart is a very stupid thing to do. As one attorney general on the programme put it, the corruption levels in football would make it an insult to compare it to the mafia, as the mafia wouldn’t be so blatant…

  • Andrew Crawshaw

    We really haven’t been at the races at all in the first half and Olympiacos deserve to be ahead. We have only showed very brief flashes of our ability and I can’t remember a single Arsenal shot on goal. Hope they got an inspiring team talk, they needed one.

  • proudkev

    What Olypiacos have been alledgedly involved in is not football corruption on anything other than a GIGANTIC Scale.

    One of the most dramatic incidents so far has been described by Petros Konstantineas, a former referee and currently a member of Greek parliament for the governing Syriza party. He testified that in January 2012 he was visited at his bakery in Kalamata, southern Greece, by Theodore Kouridis, a former general counsellor of the Greek Football Federation (EPO). It was the day before he was to referee a game between Xanthi FC and Olympiacos, and Kouridis allegedly told him: “Be careful. Olympiacos must definitely win tomorrow.”

    Konstantineas said he refused and Olympiacos lost 1-0. Three days later, his bakery was stoned by unidentified persons. Four weeks later, a bomb was planted and the bakery was partially destroyed.

    What the players say:

    DINAMO ZAGREB star Gordon Schildenfeld’s claimed: “I wanted to kill some of the refs in Greece” after his two-year loan spell at Panathinaikos ended last summer. “You can’t imagine how it was at the beginning. I wanted to kill the referees. Literally. If I killed as many referees as I wanted you wouldn’t have had too many more in the Greek League to officiate.

    “Daniel Pranjic went to the ref to complain about him, the ref putting his hands to his mouth so no one else could hear said: ‘Tell your president to pay.’ We looked at each other and burst out laughing.

    “I don’t remember the game, I only remember it was away from home. Besides, if I begin to remember you must write about many referees. I honestly don’t remember. But it was not a derby. I can’t tell what my worst experience with a referee in Greece was. They are countless.”
    And Katsouranis, 36, said: “It goes without saying refs in Greece are ‘directed’. “It’s happened countless times. Is this ref an Olympiakos or Panathinaikos fan? Of course not. His God is money.”

    It is alledged
    Marinakis, Kouridis and Sarris used prepaid mobile phones owned typically by Chinese and Pakistani immigrants so as to communicate avoiding surveillance from the National Intelligence Service of Greece, although they were eventually wiretapped nonetheless. The phone Marinakis used was registered to a Pakistani individual named “Fataul Haque”, while Sarris’ phone was registered to a Chinese one named “Qianqian Zhang”.

    Korreas’ conclusion states that Olympiakos owner’s influence expanded to a wider range beyond his own club and that following his interests, various illegallities were committed. Specific referees were ordered so as to favor Platanias F.C., a club that was under Olympiakos’ influence, against Panachaiki F.C. in a 2012 Football League play-off match which lead to Platanias F.C. promoting to Super League. He intervened in Football League’s Disciplinary Committee work in order to evoke favorable decisions for Tyrnavos 2005 F.C. against Niki Volou. Most important, he managed to influence most of the local Football Clubs Associations across Greece as well as most of the Super League clubs, which out of subordination and financial survival reasons agreed and aided Marinakis’ right-hand Giorgos Sarris to become elected as the new president of Greek Football Federation.

    The prosecutor’s conclusion goes on. Olympiakos even maintains a large roster aiming to loan players to weaker clubs, succeeding in that manner to “preserve their influence along the league”. Club’s officials have been recorded by the National Intelligence Service of Greece of even demanding and eventually managing to place in Panionios’ manager position Dimitrios Eleftheropoulos, Olympiacos’ former goalkeeper, paying half of his contract salary.

    Various acts of violence are also included inside the prosecutor’s conclusion against referees (Giorgos Daloukas, Dimitris Kyrkos etc.), journalists and others. In a separate case, launched in July 2011, Marinakis is accused also of instigation and facilitating acts of violence. According to telephone recordings, Marinakis, along with the president of second-division club Ilioupoli, Giorgos Tsakogiannis, and others, cooperated so that a group of hardcore Olympiakos fans would travel on March 13, 2011 to a third division match and provoke riots to bring about a penalty. The prosecutor’s report says that “Tsakogiannis informed [Ioannis] Papadopoulos that he had made arrangements and Evangelos Marinakis was aware of the plan for Olympiakos fans to cause riots”.

    In one of the recorded conversations, the ex-board member of Olympiakos, Emilios Kotsonis (currently imprisoned for a case of a ship with two tonnes heroin, which was caught by the Greek authorities with the help of the US Drug Enforcement Administration) refers to the severe crowd violence during a derby match of Panathinaikos against Olympiakos (2011–12 season), for which Panathinaikos was docked three points and punished €212.000 as fine, saying that Golden Dawn was behind the incident.

    Sarris, Kouridis and Stathopoulos along with their colleagues and former referees Briakos and Douros, compiled the referees’ charts for the 2011–12 and 2012–13 seasons of Greek Leagues, including referees of their utmost trust, such as Ioannidis, Amparkiolis and Kampaksis, who were used in crucial games in favor of the organization’s interests. Among others, they refereed the match of Apollon Smyrni F.C. against Panionios, being ordered to favour Panionios, as well as the match of Levadiakos F.C. against Panetolikos F.C., being ordered to favour Levadiakos. Levadiakos’ owner Giannis Kompotis, having acquaintances among the organization’s circle, regularly benefit from them.

    Concluding, the prosecutor points up that Marinakis managed to currently dominate Greek football using his power and subsequent alliances and that furthermore, taking advantage of the situation, Olympiakos have been winning the Greek Super League each season since 2011, an achievement that automatically gives the club the income reward of around €20 million per year out of UEFA’s market pool[25] resulting from their subsequent participation in the UEFA Champions League Group Phase. In one of the recorded conversations, the UEFA’s Deputy General Secretary, Theodore Theodoridis, partner of Michel Platini and son of vice-president of Olympiakos Savvas Theodoridis, is heard to provide help to Marinakis. Theodoridis is appearing to be the person who is responsible for the good relations between Platini and the various Football Federations ensuring his reelection.
    Current status

    On 27 May, the President of the Football Union of Thessaly, Anastasios Batziakas (head of a Union which appealed the current presidency of the Hellenic Football Federation due to corruption), testified that his life was threatened by anonymous calls

    UEFAs connection
    Despite these allegations UEFA decided to allow Olympiakos into the Champions League. Nothing to do with the fact Uefa president Platini’s right-hand man and the Uefa deputy secretary general is Theodoros Theodoridis – the son of Olympiakos vice-president Savvas Theodoridis.

    Good luck Arsenal, I think we may need it.

  • proudkev

    Nicoli Rizzoli refereed the Manchester Utd game against PSV when Moreno’s reckless tackle resulted ina broken leg for Luke Shaw. There was not even a booking for that tackle and to rub salt into the wound, UEFA awarded Man of the Match to Moreno….!

    So of all the Nations a referee is chosen from to referee a home match for a team mired in controversy and match fixing allegations, we get an Italian with a bit of history.

    Just saying.

  • Andrew Crawshaw

    20 minutes to go in Greece and no change in the score. We have now had a shot on target some rather strange non fouls on our players from the Israeli referee but we are still not doing anything to suggest that we are likely to get anything from the game. Just seen a replay of one of the non decisions and it looked like a penalty to me.

  • Andrew Crawshaw

    Olympiacos were well organised defensively and never allowed our midfielders any time on the ball. As a result passes were hurried and often not of the quality required and either over or under hit. It wasn’t a good performance from the youngsters who now progress to the intermediate stage of the competition rather than straight into the last 16. They can still get there but have to play extra games.

    COYG this evening!

  • SamuelAkinsolaAdebosin

    At any case, it will be an excellent game, if today’s Ucl match officials will be totally on the side of the official application of the rules and regulations of match officiating to guide this big Ucl match at Pearus tonight between Olympiakos vs Arsenal FC.

    The match officials SHOULD not allow themselves to be used for the actualising the personal aims&objectives of anybody, however highly placed he or she and they may be in political&financial circle.

    The match indicator is pointing to Arsenal qualifying for the knockout stages draw for the Ucl round of 16 games. Therefore, the Gunners who are the paid representatives of Arsenal FC on the field of Play and the Boss as their official guide and director MUST take Olympiakos by their horns and wrestle them to Karakiskais playing football ground. And slay at least 3 of them with no Gunners suffered any knock down from the horns hittings of Olympiakos.

    The Boss starts for this game defining crucial battle MUST be Audacious from the start and be ready to accept and comply to any change of formation of interswitch tactical playing formations on the field to put the Olympiakos game plan into confusion.

    The Gunners MUST interswitch play with tactical formations of: 4-2-3-1 to 4-4-2 and 4-5-1 during the course of playing this game. And Walcott and Giroud should be started on the go to kill, by the Boss from the onset of this game.

    Olympiakos may not only sit back and park their bus in front of their goalmouth in the early stage of this match. They may decide to attack first if they are the ones to kickoff the game to catch the Gunners defense-line in their cold. The Gunners lying play maker(Ramsey) and DMF(Flamini) & quartet defense-line MUST be totally vigilant and be equalled to the task of successfully defending against any attack by the Olympiakos attackers at any time from the start of this game to the end of it. The Gunners defending MUST not switch off at any point in time in the game and thus be caught napping.

    My review starts: Cech; BellerinRhino’KoscielnyMonreal; RamseyFlamini; WalcottOzilChampbell; Giroud.(4-2-3-1) Cech; DebuchyRhino’KoscielnyMonreal; BellerinRamseyFlaminiChampbell; WalcottGiroud.(4-4-2) for the 1st interswitch play after Debuchy is brought on). And 2nd interswitch play of(4-5-1)Cech; DebuchyRhino’KoscielnyMonreal; BellerinRamseyFlaminiCampbellGibbs; with any Walcott or Giroud still leading the line with one of them haven been rested by the Boss to bring on Gibbs or maybe the Ox.

  • nicky

    Re tonight’s game , we mustn’t get too paranoid over the result. There are so many imponderables, precise score, quality refereeing, defending tactics by the home side and the general performance of Arsenal.
    Should we not succeed, we enter the Europa Cup, a competition that 99% of English clubs would give their eye teeth to share with us.
    And above all we must not forget to put the match in proper perspective……it is merely a game of football, no matter the amount of fervour with which we regard our great Club. 😉

  • Gouresh

    We all know the score. 2 clear goals but my only worry is that if u see the past, we have always come short, ie one goal, one point etc. Lets hope the boys go all out and win the match with the required margin. I cannot watch the game as I have family commitments. COYG.

  • Gord


    Lose the word ALWAYS.


  • Gouresh

    Will do Gord, typing from a phone is not always good. Although I am on family commitments half my attention will be on the game.

  • Gord

    I haven’t tried typing from a phone, but I have seen others (such as Finsbury and Andrew) complain about this.

    Can I send you a little snow? 🙂


  • Gord

    The Arsenal website has switch to game mode. I suspect the lineup will be posted soon. I wonder if Tony is around to post the actual lineup?


  • Gord

    Arsenal starting XI: Cech, Bellerin, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal, Flamini, Ramsey, Walcott, Ozil, Campbell, Giroud

    Substitutes: Ospina, Debuchy, Gabriel, Chambers, Gibbs, Iwobi, Oxlade-Chamberlain


  • Gord

    The BBC’s John Murray:

    > … it’s wonderfully atmospheric.

    Speak English much John?

    I bet you the atmosphere is about 80% nitrogen and 20% oxygen.


  • ARSENAL 13

    Come on….

  • ARSENAL 13

    Girooooooooo… Yyyeeeeaaahhhhh

    Come on gunners

  • Al

    Olympiacos players just going to ground too easily.
    Theo needs to hit the ball a lot lot harder.

  • ARSENAL 13


  • ARSENAL 13

    Away fans ….awesome.

    Keep up the noise guys…

  • ARSENAL 13


    Ccooommmmeee oooooonnnnnnn

  • Gord


    It is hard to tell if you are happy or not. 🙂

    Can someone please get an ice bag ready for Giroud when he comes off? Nice to see he can score when hurt though.


  • ARSENAL 13

    Hahahahahahahaha Gord.

    Happy for the gunners..

    Angry at the referee.

  • Gord

    How does Ramsey get a card?


    How to go Gary Neville, you twit. Your side is down 0-1 and your side has 3 yellows.

  • ARSENAL 13


    Feel sorry for the player.

    But Girouuuuuuuu hattrick…..I’ll take that.


  • Ollie’s first Arsenal hat-trick and what a time to get it!

    I love you Ollie; I have always loved you!

  • GoingGoingGooner

    It’s good! It’s good to be! it’s good to be a Gooner!

  • Gord

    Great first hat trick Giroud!!! Hopefully the first of many!

    Any other Gunners wanting to get on the score sheet?


  • ARSENAL 13

    Come on Giroud… Make it 4.

  • ARSENAL 13

    Did flamini get the customary yellow!!!!!!

  • Gord

    A few places have mentioned this. Giroud is the 4th Arsenal player to get a Champions League hat trick. The others are: Henry (you know, the guy that everyone says Giroud can’t replace), Welbeck and the Lord (Bendtner).

    Lots of medja also trying to get their Arsenal back stabbing in, before the game ends.


  • Gord

    Koscielny, it’s the other goal. 🙂

    Nice to read that Joel got acknowledgement from the Greek fans as well. Good work young man!


  • ARSENAL 13

    We worked hard for this….come on gunners. This is our season.

  • GoingGoingGooner

    A comfortable night’s sleep awaits 🙂

  • para

    Well done lads.
    So, CL final Barca v Arsenal where we can get revenge 🙂

  • Strus

    Giroud first hattrick! This player really know when to get it!
    Marvelous feeling. Really fantastic, mature display!

  • Al

    Yes!! No football on Thursday 🙂 Well done Arsenal.

  • ARSENAL 13

    3 goals up Jose’s stinky bottoms…hahahahahahahaha.

    Take that jerk. We are in the CL.

  • WalterBroeckx

    as always the match report is on line before any other blog 😉

  • Gideone

    @Walter: Last statement of this post is: Arsenal to win 3-0.

    Really uncanny; bordering on clairvoyance!

  • Gideone

    Now, we wont hear a thing from the ‘omniscient’ Piers ‘Moron’ Morgan, the apostle of the AAA and WOB. Hope he and his ilk are able to sleep tonight.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Tony with an amazing prediction of the final score!!!! WOW!!!