Suspension Ends, Greek Soccer Back

ATHENS – Greece’s professional soccer leagues, suspended after a brutal attack on a top refereeing official, have resumed with a new President – who has been linked to criminal activity in the game.

League officials sent a letter to the soccer federation saying they will strive to prevent any more assaults on referees but didn’t give any plan how.

They also elected Asteras Tripolis President Giorgos Borovilos, another former refree, as President to replace Dimitris Agrafiotis, who quit in disgust at the corrupt state of the sport in Greece.

Panathinaikos voted against the appointment, complaining that Borovilos has been implicated in the case of the criminal organization in Greek soccer although there haven’t been any major prosecutions in years despite a lingering scandal.

Action will begin again on Nov. 29. Other changes include a new Alternate President, Panthrakikos President Dimitris Tzelepis as the team owners self-police the sport with almost no intervention from the sports ministry.

The Super League board meeting agreed then to send a letter to the Hellenic Football Federation (EPO) assuring it of its intentions and asking it to reverse its decision against having referees appointed for soccer games, that led to the postponement of the 11th round of Super League games last weekend.

It also decided that this weekend it will be the 12th round to be played, while the 11th will be rescheduled for January 10-11, 2015.

EPO issued a lukewarm statement that showed it wasn’t happy but agreed to put an end to the lockout in the professional leagues.

“Although EPO is not satisfied with the content of the letter that shows and illustrates the very large operational problems of the league, it believes that it is in the right direction; for that reason it will appoint referees so that the national competitions can continue and be completed smoothly,” read the EPO statement.

Hours before the agreement, the family enterprise of referee Ilias Spathas in Piraeus was broken into, with burglars causing damage and stealing 2,500 euros.

Spathas had recently refereed the game between Asteras Tripolis and Olympiakos in which Asteras protested of referee bias in favor of Olympiakos.

Christoforos Zografos, an assistant head of the referees association, was beaten with iron bars outside his home. No one was arrested in the attack that led to the brief suspension of soccer, which draws heavy betting for a sport which has drawn charges of bribery, corruption and match fixing involving players, referees, owners and a host of others.