Greece hoping to avoid FIFA sanctions after Cup move

Tue Mar 29, 2016 3:23pm EDT
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By Graham Wood

ATHENS (Reuters) - Deputy Sports Minister Stavros Kontonis is hoping his country will avoid international sanctions after cancelling this season's Greek Cup because of crowd violence.

FIFA and UEFA, the respective ruling bodies of world and European soccer, have asked for the Greek Cup to be reinstated by April 1 after the competition was scrapped by the government earlier this month.

The decision was made after the first leg of the semi-final between PAOK Salonika and Olympiakos Piraeus on March 2 was abandoned due to a violent pitch invasion, with fans hurling flares and missiles before being dispersed by riot police.

Failure to meet the April 1 deadline could result in the suspension of the Greek federation, clubs being stopped from playing in European club competitions and the national side barred from international tournaments.

"I took the initiative to speak today because the situation is very unsettled and many people perceive that as a weakness," Kontonis told a news conference on Monday ahead of a planned visit to Athens by FIFA and UEFA on Wednesday.

"What cannot be tinkered with further is a law which was already passed in parliament and is already being applied to the letter. For all themes, however, I want to hear suggestions and I believe that we'll have a very smooth meeting."

Before the FIFA and UEFA delegations arrive, the Hellenic Football Federation will appeal to Greece's Supreme Court on Tuesday to reverse the decision made by Kontonis.