Their soccer teams dominate Greece and have come to epitomize the meaning of the world rivalry – think Yankees-Red Sox or Celtics-Lakers – but the oligarchs who own Olympiacos and Panathiniakos have something in common: they’re making money off Russian oil while denouncing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
In a feature, The New York Times noted the irony of Olympiacos owner, the shipping owner Evangelos Marinakis, and Panathiniakos owner Giannis Alafouzos – who owns SKAI TV, the newspaper Kathimerini, and Kyklades Maritime – profiting for carrying the valuable Russian commodity.
The Times also noted how in April, 2022, some weeks after the invasion, that Olympiacos played a friendly soccer game with Ukraine’s Shakhtar Donetsk and said proceeds would go to help refugees.
“We use football as a tool for peace,” said Christian Karembeu, the Greek club’s Sporting Director at the time said of the match played at Olympiacos’ home stadium – which is close to Kathmerini and SKAI on Athens’ waterfront.
But, the paper said, four days before that, the tanker Alkinoos – which sails under the flag of Liberia, not Greece despite being owned by Marinakis’ Capital Ship Management – took Russian oil the the Dutch port of Rotterdam.
That was based on reports from the Center for Research on Energy and Clean Air and analyzed by Investigate Europe and Reporters United, a Greek investigative journalism project.
Two days after that, another Marinakis owned ship, the Aristidis, landed in northern England with a cargo of Russian oil, the report said, his company benefiting from Russian oil and energy supplies exempted from European Union sanctions over the invasion.
Neither oligarch was breaking any laws, but the paper pointed to the apparent duplicity of condemning Russia for the invasion and adding to their futures by still dealing with a country denounced by much of the world.
“The only transgression here, given Olympiacos’s support for Shakhtar, was that his private and public stances did not match,” The Times said before adding that Alafouzos is doing the same.
The paper said SKAI and Kathimerini have been critical of the invasion and that, “Both have been fiercely critical of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Alafouzos has maintained a similar stance in his (relatively few) public statements on the issue.”
Investigate Europe calculated that Kyklades vessels have “carried out 26 shipments of crude oil or oil from Russia internationally” between the start of the invasion and Jan. 5 this year, the report said.”
As owners of the country’s two most prominent and popular clubs, though, Marinakis and Alafouzos occupy the grandest stage. The friction between them has, at times, appeared to go beyond the professional and the commercial and into the deeply, virulently personal,” the paper said.
Except for when it comes to the business of making money