by Tony Attwood
Olympiakos v Arsenal is the tie drawn for us in the round of the last 32 in the Europa League in 2020. And of course, as ever, if we think of Olympiakos and indeed Greek football, we think of corruption, so I thought I would try and update the occasional articles we’ve run over the years on corruption in Greek football.
Except, I have a problem. I’ve written odds and ends about “Koriopolis”, the big match-fixing scandal which started in 2011, but contrary to what many expected, in that case almost everyone was found innocent after eight years of legal process surrounding 100 suspects. 11 were found guilty of minor offences.
The media in Greece were not convinced by this outcome not least because of the scope of the allegations which included illegal gambling, fraud, extortion and money laundering, involved the league and a number of clubs, plus their presidents. These are powerful people with an awful lot of friends in high places.
Perhaps because everyone was innocent, or perhaps because of something more nefarious, only the former president of Ilioupoli, (one of the implicated clubs), Giorgos Tsakoyiannis was given a prison sentence, and that was suspended.
But of course, Koriopolis wasn’t all there was for in 2015 telephone taps revealed another case which involved the owner of Olympiacos, Vangelis Marinakis. Those charges were then dropped, although charges against others have continued.
This case relates to taking control of Greek football through blackmail and fraud. As ever the accused are referees, judges, and club chairmen. These cases are wending their way through the courts but the chances of a conviction seem small after the Supreme Court in Greece dismissed all charges against Marinakis in March last year. Mostly these related to match-fixing and the creation of a criminal organisation.
Gianni Infantino, the Uefa general secretary in 2015 gave Olympiakos a clean bill of health as did the Court of Arbitration for Sport, so the club has continued to play in Champions League games.
But interestingly having won the league in Greece seven years running from 2011 to 2017 inclusive, Olympiacos failed to take the title in 2018 (when AEK Athens won it for the 12th time). And again in 2019 when PAOK won it for only the third time in their history. (Olympiacos have won it 44 times, so they cant really complain).
And at the moment Olympiacos are in with a strong chance of a 45th title being at the top of the league and undefeated. Here’s the table – our opponents have not lost a game thus far.
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Olympiacos played in the qualifying rounds of the Champions League beating Istanbul Basakesehir in the third qualifying round and Krasnodar in the play off round. They then found themselves in the same group as Tottenham and Bayern Munich coming third in that group and so moving into the Europa.
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Here is the full draw for the first knock out round of the Europa League. The club named second play at home in the second match.
- Apoel v Basel
AZ Alkmaar v LASK
Bayer Leverkusen v Porto
Brugge v Manchester United
Cluj v Sevilla
Copenhagen v Celtic
Eintracht Frankfurt v RB Salzburg
Getafe v Ajax
Ludogorets v Internazionale
Olympiakos v Arsenal
Rangers v Braga
Roma v Gent
Shakhtar Donetsk v Benfica
Sporting v Istanbul Basaksehir
Wolfsburg v Malmö
Wolves v Espanyol
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