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Infantino still implicated in Greek football corruption, and Fifa Super-State status claims

by Tony Attwood

On June 30 2015, Uefa’s then General secretary Gianni Infantino now head of Fifa announced that Olympiakos would be allowed to stay in the Champions League.  As we know they went on to play Arsenal.

Immediately questions were raised.  Uefa was asked whether Infantino had removed his deputy, Theodore Theodoridis, from any discussions or decisions about the handling of the Olympiakos case, which he was expected to do because Theodoridis’s father, Savvas, was vice-president of Olympiakos.

What was Infantino thinking?

Of course we don’t know but we do know that Infantino then said, “The Uefa disciplinary bodies have provisionally admitted Olympiakos.   There are investigations in Greece the situation could change….as we all know, this kind of investigation can take some time, we need to have some clear evidence.”

“I think our bodies have shown they are very firm when it comes to match-fixing; if there is any evidence, they will take this into account.    There is a clear rule as well which automatically excludes a club involved in match-fixing.”

We know also that Panathinaikos and PAOK Salonika who came second and third in the league, prepared complaints to Uefa about Olympiakos’ participation in Europe as a representative of Greece.   But as we know they were allowed in, and played Arsenal.

However the secretive Court of Arbitration for Sport then rejected Panathinaikos’ appeal against Uefa’s decision to allow Olympiakos to play in Europe in June last year.   The following day the Greek Magistrature took up the case against Olympiakos president Marinakis of five felonies regarding match fixing ordering the owner to hand in £140,000 bail, appear at a police station twice a month and banned him from football pending the outcome of the case.

Now all this is interesting because it represented a change of approach by Infantino because when Fenerbahce faced match-fixing charges, as reported at the time on Untold, Uefa wrote to the Turkish Federation to warn them about Fenerbahce before club officials were convicted and told the Turkish Federation to remove the club from their Champions League list.

But Uefa, with Infantino taking a close interest in the affair, and with Infantino’s deputy closely allied to Olympiakos, didn’t act in the same way with Olympiakos. Instead they argued that Fenerbahce’s president had been charged by Turkish authorities but claim the Greek proceedings have not reached that point.   Infantino then argued that the CAS ruling on Olympiakos confirmed Uefa’s decision.  But with his mind on the issue of become Fifa boss he made a mistake, because he claimed that before the CAS (supposedly totally independent of Fifa) actually issued their ruling.

CAS eventually confirmed that lawyers acting for Uefa had argued in the CAS hearing that CAS should throw out the case against Olympiako because Panathinaikos did not have the right to bring a case even though, if Olympiakos were guilty of match fixing, that should have meant their being thrown out of Europe and Panathinaikos put in their place.

It is an interesting new argument because if one club cannot report another for match fixing then it seems very unlikely any match fixing case will ever reach Uefa or the Court of Arbitration in Sport.

So the suggestion has been made that Uefa worked to keep Olympiakos in Europe by stopping CAS from properly looking at the Olympiakos case at a time when the vice president of Olympiakos had close links to Infantino’s team at Uefa.

Undoubtedly Infantino must have thought he had got away with his “blind eye” approach to the case, but the problem of Greek football still won’t go away.   The country’s deputy sports minister has cancelled this season’s domestic cup because of crowd violence and has refused to back down despite Fifa (now under Infantino) pressure.  This all arose after the first leg of the semi-final between PAOK and Olympiakos on 2 March was abandoned amid crowd chaos.

Fifa, now under Infantino has sent a letter to the Greek FA demanding they reinstate the Greek Cup by 1 April noting that a failure to do so would result in sanctions including the suspension of the Greek federation, the removal of all Greek clubs from playing in European club competitions and the debarring of the Greek national team from the world cup.  Infantino is flexing his muscles – and by pure chance the relatives of his duty when at Uefa could be the beneficiaries.

But the deputy sports minister Stavros Kontonis in Greece has said that the government will not change its mind.  He spoke of “exhaustive efforts in trying to protect basic social rights such as public order and social peace,” and added, “We declare yet again that the Greek government fully respects the self-governing function of sports federations and is not intervening in the administration, nor on issues related to sports.”

Kontonis also made the point that the Hellenic Football Federation (itself desperate to find a way to stop Olympiakos apparent ability to get away with anything in Greek football) had not used its recognised right to object although it has now appealed to the Council of State.  But Kontonis has declared that the situation will  only change if the country’s highest court decided to reverse the decision taken earlier this month.

Kontonis rejected Fifa’s suggestion that his decision was “disproportionate” and that the state could have used less severe measures, such as playing matches behind closed doors or a temporary suspension saying that the Greek top flight had been suspended three times last season, and that problems had persisted.

He added that the “cancellation of the Greek Cup is another preventive measure designed to protect public safety, which although particularly serious, is not a punitive measure, and the law actually provides the further step of suspending or cancelling the championship, if it is necessary. We would like to stress that the government will fully respect the decision which will be made by the supreme court of the country.”

With Infantino now paying back the favours that allowed him to become the top dog in Fifa, it will be interesting to see whether Fifa backs Olympiakos, where Infantino’s friends rule, or attempts to clean up Greek football.

Certainly he is not going to back down from the claim that Fifa has Super-State status, and that Fifa rules and only Fifa rules apply in relation to football.  Part of this insidious claim means that states are hampered in taking action against corruption and violence in football – thus allowing Fifa to control not only football but any “investigation” (I use the word lightly) into crime and corruption in football.


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24 March 1994: George Graham sold Anders Limpar to Everton for £1.6m.  Limpar was subsequently very critical of Graham’s style of forcing players out by arranging transfers without telling the player that the offer was there until the last minute and then telling the player he had no choice.

24 March 2012: Arsenal 3 Aston Villa 0.  7th consecutive win during which Arsenal scored 21 goals. Gibbs, Walcott and Arteta scored.  Villa won the yellow card race 4-0.

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16 comments to Infantino still implicated in Greek football corruption, and Fifa Super-State status claims

  • WalterBroeckx

    Now that seems strange that Infantino wants to ban Greece from playing international football because the government has banned the cup competition.

    The strange things is that there has been previous and with other outcome from Fifa….

    In 2011 we had the Port Said riots in which 74 people were killed in a football match in Egypt. Egypt then cancelled the league in Egypt for 2 seasons… but they still were allowed to play with their national team in international matches!

    So both Greece and Egypt government did the same (suspend a competition) but now Fifa is acting in a different way?

    Bottom line is that this Infantino chap is just more of the same it seems. When his friends are involved he wants to please his friends first….

    So for me it is still : Fick Fufa!

  • WalterBroeckx

    And who the hell is Fifa to say what a government should do to restore order and calm in a country????????
    Maybe Fifa could take over Belgium for the moment also as they seem to know how to run a country? Mind you… wouldn’t be a completely bad idea maybe…. sigh….

  • Pat

    So Sebb Blatter and Michel Platini have been banned for eight years (I think that’s the number). Huge campaign against them in the British press. England backed Infantino as the successor yet nothing seems to have changed. So what was it really all about?

  • norman14

    Football is really like a can of worms, except in FIFA’s case there are millions of worms in millions of cans. So you NEVER reach the end.

    Tony’s point about clubs not being able to report other clubs for match fixing, is another can with millions of worms. To be fair, how does one club prove that another was involved in match fixing? Unless the (reporting) club was directly approached by the (fixing) club, is there really, any proof?

    Example One:

    Club “A” is approached to throw a game against Club “S”. Club “A” is chasing top spot in the league, whilst Club “S” is struggling, just above the relegation places. It’s around New Year, about half way through the season.

    Incredibly, Club “S” wins 4-0 and the supporters of Club “A” go mad saying just how “poor” their team was. Time for the Manager to be sacked, time to get rid of half the players, time for the Board to go, time for the owner to sell up, blah blah blah.

    However, absolutely NO mention of corruption.

    Obviously, Club “A” are not going to report themselves, and Club “S” has an unexpected 3 points and 4 goals, so they are hardly going to complain either.

    Example Two:

    A match official is approached by a club (Lets call them Club “C”), to make sure they win an upcoming game against Club “A”.

    During the first half, the official allows Club “C” to get away with several incidents of foul play. Towards the end of the half, a Club “C” player quite openly indulges in a period of “Violent Conduct” but the referee does nothing. Eventually, the official gives a yellow, then a 2nd yellow, to a player from Club “A”, resulting in a red card. In the 2nd half, despite continued foul play by Club “C”, the official only gives yellow cards to players from Club “A” for innocuous, petty fouls, and eventually, this results in a 2nd Red card, reducing Club “A” to 9 players. Following the game, an investigation is carried out, and the FA charge the player from Club “C” with violent conduct, and he receives a 3 game ban. The first player from Club “A” who was sent off has his red card rescinded. Too late, Club “C” won the game 2-0.

    So whose responsibility is it to report this seemingly blatant incidence of match fixing? Does Club “A” actually have proof that the referee deliberately influenced the outcome of the game? No, they don’t. So why didn’t the FA investigate anyway? Well, that would be an admission that their own organisation is corrupt, by allowing corrupt officials to be in charge of games.
    Why don’t the media investigate? Simply because, they don’t have the balls.

    There is so much “dishonesty” going on all around us but sadly, even getting rid of Platini and Blatter isn’t going to prevent it happening.

    Football is now too big a business for honesty and fairness to prevail.

  • finsbury

    “RICO Enterprise”

    That’d be the judge’s terminology. Used in a court of law. To describe FUFA/UEFA etc. all the way down to the soggy bottom.


  • upp

    I don’t think clubs are banned from reporting incidents to their FA, armed with evidence I’m sure they can achieve a lot, maybe club A should try it

  • Ben

    Cruyff has passed away!!:(

  • WalterBroeckx

    off topic but just heard the sad news that former Dutch football legend Johan Cruijff has passed away at the age of 68 years old.
    The former Dutch football legend died at the consequences of long cancer.
    RIP Johan Cruijff

  • finsbury

    Rest in peace the Dutch Master

  • finsbury

    He never showed enough passion and ambition and for fans of the Netherlands the seventies must’ve felt like Groundhog Day 😉 (especially if you choose in the full light of day to completely ignore the Argentian Junta etc etc etc)

    Yet we all know who he is. Funny that.

    I guess Johan did know. Something. Or other.

  • Gord

    RIP Johann Cruijff.

    The only football corruption I see taking over the news this morning is out of Brazil. It would seem that one of the corrupt people in Brazil wasn’t smart enough to keep it all in his/her head. They put everything in a spreadsheet, and someone found the spreadsheet.

    World Cup Brazil, World Cup South Africa and World Cup Germany are all producing quite the lasting legacy. And hopefully the septic one gets tied into them all.

  • norman14


    exactly, but where’s the evidence?

  • Jerry


    Excellent article highlighting the hypocrisy of FIFA in regards to the way they handled the situation in Greece compared to Egypt.

    Also UEFA could be in more troubles with reports of a proposal to change the current UCL format to have an initial knock out round of 32 teams, with the 16 teams advancing to two groups of 8, guaranteeing 14 matches for those in the group stage. The winners of the two groups advancing to the final. The plan supposedly supported by Germany, Spain, and Italy to counteract the expected financial advantage of the English TV contract.

    Essentially, it is being set up to knock out the little guys.

  • Josif


    I don’t know if you have heard the news about the scandal regarding Bosnian Premijer Liga (yes, the worst league in Europe has the same name as the English one).

    Right now, the leaders in Bosnia are Sloboda Tuzla. They are top of the league and it can compared with Leicester City in England as they have never won the league before and two years ago they had been in the second tier of the Bosnian football.

    However, a few weeks ago, the president of Sloboda accused FK Sarajevo, the reigning champions for match-fixing in the penultimate match of the last season that involved three clubs: NK Vitez, FK Sarajevo and FK Sloboda.

    According to Sloboda’s president, Sarajevo wanted three points from Vitez who had been involved in a difficult relegation battle with FK Mladost. Vitez apparently agreed to roll over and let Sarajevo win the game but only if they guarantee Vitez that Mladost would lose at Tuzla against Sloboda. To make it simple: according to accusations, Sarajevo offered Sloboda money in order to stimulate them to beat Mladost and asked Vitez to roll over against them in the same time. In the penultimate match of the season, Sarajevo eventually won 3:0 at Vitez and Sloboda won 3:2 against Mladost in a match that had been a dead rubber for Sloboda but extremely important for Mladost. Thanks to results in the last gameweek, Sarajevo won the league, Vitez saved themselves from the relegation and Mladost went down.

    Sloboda’s president also accused Sarajevo that they were yet to pay Sloboda for the favour.

    Oh, I forgot to say but Sarajevo won the league thanks to their superior financial position. Why they are so superior to other Bosnian clubs? Well, only Sarajevo have Mr Vincent Tan for the owner.

    If you were wondering what has happened about that case… Well, nothing. Nobody has been charged and UEFA hasn’t taken any actions against any club from this story.

  • Gord

    Over the Easter weekend, there has been news of a Honduran pleading guilty in the USA to the USA fraud case. Thank you Easter Bunny! Please arrange for the septic one to get caught before next Easter please.

  • Gord

    Not corruption, but rather that Easter Bunny.

    The press (well, it was a headline from Metro I seen, are they press?) is reporting that Piss Mrgan is pissed. Apparently Arsenal have given Wenger another 3 year contract!

    Thank you Easter Bunny!