Greece heading for soccer 'Grexit' as FIFA deadline looms

Wed Mar 30, 2016 6:38pm EDT
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By Graham Wood

ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece moved a step closer to a ban by soccer's governing bodies FIFA and UEFA on Wednesday as talks between the two organizations and the government over state involvement in the sport ended with no agreement.

A delegation from world soccer's governing body FIFA and their European counterpart, along with the Hellenic Football Federation (EPO) met with Deputy Minister for Sport Stavros Kontonis.

The delegation was hoping to resolve differences with the government and avert a potential ban or ‘Grexit’, as it has been dubbed by local media, after Kontonis canceled this season's Greek Cup because of crowd violence.

FIFA and UEFA have given Kontonis a deadline of April 1 to reinstate the competition.

“The cup must be completed,” said the head of FIFA’s delegation Costakis Koutsokoumnis, who is the president of the Cyprus Football Association (CFA).

“There are measures that could be implemented; it could be played behind closed doors or on in a neutral stadium, and it could even be staged with foreign referees...

"I hope that we will... be in a position to give a one-week extension to the deadline for the minister to change his decision. But I fear that this will not happen."

Kontonis canceled the cup 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.   Continued...

The FIFA logo is seen at the FIFA headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland March 18, 2016. REUTERS/Ruben Sprich