By Paul Nicholson
April 7 – Controversial AEK Athens owner Dimitris Melissanidis has again hit the headlines in Greece where he could be facing a life ban from football.
The Hellenic Football Federation (EPO) has been investigating election malfeasance following the election of Greece’s Euro 2004 hero Theodoros Zagorakis last month as the new president of the EPO for a four-year term.
Melissanidis was originally understood to have pledged support for Zagorakis, who captained Greece to their Euro 2004 triumph and has since had a career in politics. Zagorakis was the government’s favoured candidate to clean up what has been a miserable 10 years for the HFF characterised by infighting and multiple accusations of match-fixing.
Melissanidis, noted for his aggressive approach to rivals, having met with Zagorakis promising him support four times before the election, instead worked behind the scenes to promote his own candidates with accusations of illegal deal making in an attempt to manoeuvre them into positions.
Along with his associate Giannis Papadopoulos, he is also accused of manipulating the elections of the regional Football Association of Karditsa, in a move to increase their power base.
The accusations of election fraud triggered an investigation by the EPO Ethics Committee into the actions of the AEK club, its owner Melissanidis and Papadopoulos.
Leaks now suggest the Ethics body is proposing a life ban on any involvement in football for Melissanidis, Papadopoulos and Angelos Daniel, a member of the Executive Committee of EPO and president of the Achaia Football Association.
The Ethics Committee is also reportedly proposing a deduction of 10 points from AEK for multiple infractions of the EPO code of conduct and ethics rules.
Melissanidis is also facing major issues in his personal and business life with a new case filed against his oil business dealing in New York via Aegean Marine petroleum. Melissanidis is named in the court filing as “the driving force behind the scheme” that saw “up to US $300 million of Company cash and other assets were misappropriated through fraudulent activities.” Aegean is also alleged “to have issued public filings, financial statements, and audit opinions containing false information”.
Meanwhile Greek football is desperately trying to put itself back on a more positive and corruption untainted path. Zagorakis received 66 out of 68 votes, replacing Evangelos Grammenos as EPO president at the end of March .
“The effort for the recovery of Greek football starts tomorrow,” said Zagorakis, referring to the years of scandal that have blighted the Greek domestic game. “There is a plan, there is a mood. In this great effort, no one is being left out, and I call on all the people of football to join us.”
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