Greek FA suspends operations, cites fan violence

The Greek Football Association on Friday said it will suspend

operations indefinitely in an attempt to trigger a reform of the

country’s violence-plagued domestic leagues.

FA chief Sofoklis Pilavios called for a vote by the body’s

executive, which was carried by a margin of 49-7, arguing that he

wanted to take the game out of the ”hands of hooligans, violence,

and match-fixers.”

The suspension will start on Monday, after Greece’s 2012

European Championship qualifier at home to Malta on Saturday.

Greece leads Group F after three straight wins.

The move is being made during the domestic off-season, which

usually lasts until late August, while Greece’s next competitive

international is not until Sept. 2, a Euro 2012 qualifier in

Israel.

The FA said that a scheduled friendly match between Greece and

Ecuador would go ahead at New York’s Citi Field baseball stadium on

June 7.

”Operations of the Greek FA will be suspended indefinitely

starting June 6, pending the completion of talks with the

government, political parties and league organizers,” an FA

statement said.

Greek football has been marred by repeated outbreaks of fan

violence this season, along with allegations of corruption.

At the April 30 Greek Cup final, hundreds of AEK Athens fans ran

onto to the pitch at the Olympic Stadium in Athens and attacked

rival players before the end of the match against lowly Atromitos.

AEK was leading the game 3-0.

Police used tear gas to disperse the rioters who clashed with

fans on the field. AEK was awarded the cup, but ordered to play

three home games in an empty stadium as punishment.

As part of repeated government and FA initiatives to clean up

the game, northern Greek club Iraklis was relegated to the

second-tier after a committee found that its finances were not in

order. But the ruling triggered riots by Iraklis fans. The club is

expected to challenge the decision at the Court of Arbitration for

Sport, based in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Pilavios said the FA was forced to take drastic action to try

and reform Greek football.

”We are facing a very major problem of violence,” Pilavios

said. ”We have a choice to make: Do we want football in the hands

of hooligans, violence, and match-fixers, forgers, and liars? A

game with deals made under the table, exploited by politicians, a

game of violence and threats? Or do we want a game based on strong

institutions and rules and strong moral grounding?”

Organizers of the Greek top-flight Superleague issued a

statement supporting the Greek FA decision.