Greece to seek FIFA, UEFA help to ‘reset’ football problems

Ivan Savvides, the Russian-born Greek businessman and owner of PAOK Salonika, arrives on the pitch with a holstered gun at the Toumba Stadium in Thessaloniki. (Reuters)
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Updated 31 January 2020

Greece to seek FIFA, UEFA help to ‘reset’ football problems

  • The complaint by Olympiakos alleges PAOK chief Ivan Savvidis has acquired a stake in Xanthi through a family member, a claim which he denies
  • Mitsotakis’ government made an amendment to a law which replaces relegation with points deduction as the punishment for multiple team ownership

ATHENS: Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Thursday his government would seek help from governing bodies FIFA and UEFA to “reset” the country’s troubled football scene.
Mitsotakis’ government is grappling with a burgeoning rivalry between two of the country’s top clubs, PAOK Thessaloniki and Olympiakos Piraeus.
A new row erupted on Monday when the Greek professional sports commission recommended the relegation of current champions and league leaders PAOK over allegations of common ownership with fellow top-flight club Xanthi.
“The sport will be redrawn with international support and technical assistance,” Mitsotakis said in parliament.
“The heads of the two federations will be personally invited to sign a memorandum with us to reset Greek football,” he said.
The Thessaloniki club have called the accusations a “setup” motivated by arch-rivals Olympiakos.
The complaint by Olympiakos alleges PAOK chief Ivan Savvidis has acquired a stake in Xanthi through a family member, a claim which he denies.
“If this unhealthy climate carries on for much longer, we will be forced to suspend (the top-flight championship) as a last resort,” the PM said.
Thousands of PAOK fans on Thursday held a demonstration in Thessaloniki on the issue.
To calm tempers generally, Mitsotakis’ government rushed to parliament on Tuesday to make an amendment to a law which replaces relegation with points deduction as the punishment for multiple team ownership.
This infraction will now be punishable by the docking of five to 10 points.
Greek football authorities have yet to meet to discuss the issue.
Any changes must be ratified by global body FIFA.
Savvidis is a Greek-Russian tobacco businessman and a former lawmaker with the party of Russian president Vladimir Putin.
He is locked in a bitter rivalry with Olympiakos chief Vangelis Marinakis through TV stations and other media under their respective control.
In 2018 Savvidis caused an outcry after storming onto the pitch with a holstered gun on his belt to protest against a refereeing decision.


97 players, staff test positive for virus as KSA clubs resume training

Updated 12 July 2020

97 players, staff test positive for virus as KSA clubs resume training

  • Authorities introduce a range of protocols to ensure a safe return to competition

JEDDAH: Almost 100 footballers and staff have tested positive for COVID-19 as Saudi football clubs resume training for the Prince Mohammed bin Salman Football League competitions.

The Saudi Arabian Football Federation said that 1,351 tests were carried out between June 21 and July 8, resulting in 50 players and 47 administrative staff testing positive.

Matches in the professional league are set to resume on Aug. 4 after being suspended in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which halted all sports activities in the Kingdom.

The Saudi Pro League Association and relevant authorities have introduced a range of protocols to ensure a safe return to competition.

Players are encouraged to use hand sanitizers and disinfectants before and after training. Surfaces will be cleaned and sanitized around the clock, and coaching and administrative staff must wear face masks at all times.

Staff and players will have their temperatures checked at the entrance to training grounds, which will have designated entrances and exits to avoid overcrowding. Staff will also check for symptoms among players during training sessions.

HIGHLIGHTS

• According to the Saudi Arabian Football Federation, 1,351 tests were carried out between June 21 and July 8, resulting in 50 players and 47 administrative staff testing positive.

• Matches in the professional league are set to resume on Aug. 4 after being suspended in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which halted all sports activities in the Kingdom.

• The Saudi Pro League Association and relevant authorities have introduced a range of protocols to ensure a safe return to competition.

Pools will remain closed, while equipment including balls, goalposts and training items, as well as training spaces used by players, will be disinfected before and after use.

Staff members older than 65 and those who suffer from chronic illness will not be allowed on the field.

The federation also decided to increase the number of substitutes during a game from three to five in line with amendments approved by the International Football Association.

Players must follow social distancing rules while training and on substitute benches and in locker rooms. Exchanging shirts and handshakes are prohibited.

Games will be played without fans.

Training resumed on June 21, 2020, in line with medical protocols and precautionary measures.