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Greek Prime Minister calls for Fifa, Uefa assistance amid Super League dispute

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis addresses the media during a joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel (by Michele Tantussi/Getty Images)

Greece’s Prime Minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, has said he is seeking the intervention of Fifa and Uefa to reform club football in the country amid the latest crisis, a bitter battle between Super League clubs Olympiacos and PAOK.

Speaking in parliament, Mitsotakis said he would extend “personal invitations” to the heads of the world and European governing bodies, adding he would suspend the Super League and Greek participation in Uefa tournaments should the latest dispute not be resolved.

Reigning champion PAOK, and record Super League title-winner Olympiakos, are currently embroiled in a dispute over ownership rules. The government this week intervened after PAOK faced relegation proceedings following a complaint lodged by Olympiakos claiming that the chairman of the Thessaloniki-based club, Greek-Russian businessman lvan Savvidis, had broken ownership rules.

The government blocked any threat of relegation by making a legislative amendment but PAOK, which currently sits top of the 2019-20 Super League, could yet be hit with a points deduction. Mitsotakis yesterday (Thursday) defended the government’s intervention, which was designed to also save PAOK’s fellow northern club Xanthi from relegation. He claimed the government’s move was driven by fears over social cohesion owing to a north-south divide in Greece.

“Football is important, but tax cuts, jobs, good hospitals, and good schools are far more important,” Mitsotakis added, according to the Associated Press news agency. “We will draw up a memorandum with Fifa and Uefa for a restart of Greek football.

“I call on club owners to make use of this 11th-hour effort or they will be excluded from all international competition and they will be deprived of a valuable source of income for a long time.”

PAOK’s recent success is challenging the dominance previously established by Piraeus-based Olympiakos, which is owned by shipping magnate Vangelis Marinakis.