By Paul Nicholson
September 28 – After a year of being under the control of a FIFA normalisation committee, Greek football looks to be in a worse position than when FIFA parachuted itself in to take control. New data suggests that as many as 75% of the games in the country’s second tier Football League show signs of match-fixing under FIFA’s stewardship.
In a country where football rivalry has become increasingly polarised and politicised amongst the leading clubs and within federation politics, the role of FIFA again appears to be more politically motivated than providing a foundation for a more honest and transparent sport in the country.
The match-fixing revelations are from data supplied by fraud monitoring service Sportradar which tracks suspicious betting trends using live bookmaker data.
Portuguese Vitor Melo Pereira, appointed by FIFA to take charge of referee appointments in the professional sports leagues of Greece (Super League, Football League), told a referees meeting: “According to the briefing from UEFA and FIFA, 75% of the Greek Football League (division b) football games are under betting investigation. So be careful. I will be relentless. A referee should not dare to engage in something like this. I do not want to see one of you in a police car.”
Despite this warning there has been no improvement in the situation with more than 50 reports having been sent to the Greek FA this year, the bulk of them concerning the Football League which has increasingly struggled for broadcast coverage and sponsorship.
Meanwhile FIFA has continued to work through the same members of Greece’s central refereeing committee who were in charge when the crisis began in what some Greek observers claim is a rubber-stamping of the old ways.
Accusations of match-fixing in Greece have been rife for a number of years resulting in various cases brought before the courts. FIFA’s Normalisation Committee has been criticised for its inclusion of some individuals who could have a conflict of interest, including former AEK managing director Alexis Dedes. Links have also been drawn to those implicated in the much-publicised Koriopolis match-fixing case, and their potential influence over referee appointments.
The involvement of Greece’s sports ministry must also be questioned with the protections it gives to match-fixers. The Greek Sports Commission refuses to recognise Sportradar’s Fraud Detection Service (FDS) as a reliable source of evidence in the proof that match-fixing has taken place. The Court for Arbitration of Sport (CAS) recently ruled in the Skenderbeu case that FDS reports were sufficient evidence of match-fixing, a ruling that has been accepted worldwide.
Until FIFA addresses the fundamental issues surrounding its Normalisation Committee and the Greek sports ministry allows modern day methods and tools to tackle the corruption in the game, no fundamental progress will be made. The growing feeling throughout Greek and European football is that vested interests will not allow this to happen.
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