FIFA suspends Greek federation

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src=' ' class='caption'> FIFA has suspended European champion Greece because of government interference in the domestic running of the sport.

updated: February 25, 2007 11:35 IST
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European champion Greece has been suspended from international competition by soccer's ruling body because of government interference in the domestic running of the sport. FIFA announced the sanction on Monday, saying the Greek federation and all its members - clubs, players and officials - were "suspended with immediate effect and until further notice from all international contact." FIFA's Emergency Committee, comprising the presidents of all continental confederations, decided that the administration of the Hellenic Football Federation did not comply with FIFA's statutes regarding independence of the decision-making process from government. In September 2005, the HFF was given a July 15 deadline to obtain from the Greek government an amendment to the national law on sports so that the national association conformed with international and European soccer regulations. "In spite of repeated warnings from both FIFA and UEFA, the commitment expressed by Greek government representatives to amend the law on sport to irrevocably recognize that football matters can only be decided by the HFF and its subordinated football structures has not been respected," FIFA said in a statement. "In fact, the recently presented draft of a new law on professional leagues constitutes another example of interference from the government in football affairs. "Therefore, the FIFA Emergency Committee has determined that the deadline would not be met by the HFF and that the suspension of this federation was necessary." The HFF accused Sports Minister Giorgos Orfanos of "playing with fire". "(Orfanos) is leading Greek football to international isolation and placing it outside the international soccer community," the HFF said in a statement. "Instead of fully freeing Greek soccer from state intervention, (Orfanos) has legalised state intervention and sidelined the federation, with no concern for the consequences that have been explained to him in detail." Greece was an upset winner of the 2004 European Championship in Portugal, but failed to qualify for the 2006 World Cup in Germany. Qualifiers for the 2008 European Championship starts in September. Under the suspension, Greek clubs will not be allowed to enter qualifying for the Champions League next month. (AP)