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SPORTS

NYT Calls Upcoming Panathinaikos vs. Olympiacos Match ‘The Oligarchs’ Derby’

February 24, 2023

NEW YORK – The New York Times features an extensive report on the derby between eternal rivals Olympiacos and Panathinaikos, who are set to meet on Sunday at the Karaiskakis Stadium. The report focuses on off-the-field incidents that go beyond football. In particular, journalist Rory Smith, who covers football and is based in Britain, characterizes the match as the “derby of oligarchs,” linking, among other things, the activities of Olympiacos’ major shareholder, Vangelis Marinakis, and his counterpart from Panathinaikos, Giannis Alafouzos, in the shipping industry, with the transport of Russian oil.

The Alkinoos, an oil tanker sailing under the Liberian flag, arrived in Rotterdam from the Russian port of Primorsk, according to data from the Center for Research on Energy and Clean Air. The data was analyzed by the investigative journalism program Reporters United, a Greek research program, and the organization Investigate Europe. The amount of Russian oil transported by the ship is not known, only that the ship’s deadweight capacity is 109,900 tons, and it is operated by Capital Ship Management. The same goes for the Aristidis, an oil and chemical tanker that arrived in Teesport, northern England, a few days later. This ship had also come from Primorsk.

The owner of Olympiacos and Nottingham Forest, Vangelis Marinakis, has not broken any laws or sanctions but facilitated the flow of Russian oil worldwide, according to an investigative report by The New York Times. The article links Marinakis and Giannis Alafouzos, the owner of Panathinaikos, to the shipping industry, specifically oil tankers transporting oil from Russia. The report notes that Marinakis owns a fleet of ships that includes Kyklades Maritime, which has continued to transport Russian oil since the start of the war. Investigate Europe calculated that these ships have “carried out 26 missions of crude oil or oil from Russia internationally” between the start of the invasion and January 5 of this year.

In the purely footballing aspect, Smith emphasizes that this is not so much the “derby of eternal rivals” but the most intense footballing rivalry in Europe. He also adds that, given the people involved in ownership, it could be characterized as the “derby of the oligarchs.”

“To what extent all of this has to do with football is anyone’s guess. Olympiacos, Panathinaikos, and Greek football as a whole are likely trapped at the crossroads for something much greater than a mere sport. On the contrary, they are pieces in a game where there is no time for ethics, where every route to success is considered fair play, where the rivalry of billionaires is played not only on the field but in stadiums and ports, on shipping lanes, and airwaves. There, the real prize is not a trophy but pure, unquestionable power,” the article concludes, also looking back at earlier clashes between Alafouzos and Marinakis from the period of allegations about match-fixing and tensions in the Super League meetings.

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