Facing Criminal Trial, Olympiacos Owner Marinakis Gives Up Team

Vangelis Marinakis. (Photo by Eurokinissi/ Clodian Lato)

ATHENS – Shipping tycoon Vangelis Marinakis said he will step down as President of one of Greece’s two most dominant soccer teams, Olympiacos, after the Athens Council of Appeals Court said he and other officials allegedly involved with match-fixing will have to face trial.

The list includes the owners of Atromitos, Giorgos Spanos, and Levadiakos, Yiannis Kobotis, the former head of the Hellenic Football Federation (EPO), Giorgos Sarris, and 24 others, charged with a number of crimes and misdemeanors showing a deep pattern of corruption.

The appeals judges’ irrevocable order accused Marinakis of a crime concerning match-fixing (against an original proposal by a prosecutor for five crimes), as well as of a misdemeanor regarding the set-up of a gang to the effect of fixing soccer match results, reported Kathimerini.

The three owners must give away their clubs by Nov. 23 for facing a criminal charge, the order dictates, as the General Secretariat for Sport would then step in to force it.

The list of those charged includes former EPO officials, former referees and referee officials, soccer players and the Portuguese former coach of Atromitos, Ricardo Sa Pinto, with the charges showing the sport was fixed.

For now, the EPO will also be charged with making disciplinary measures against those charged who have been tied to the organization for years. It was unclear what the ruling’s effect will be on Marinakis’ ownership of the English Premier League club Nottingham Forest or if officials in England will take action against him given the seriousness of the charges besmirching the sport.

Soccer’s governing body in Europe, UEFA, with a history of corruption itself, hasn’t indicated whether it will act either as even serious charges involving soccer have met leniency.