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Soccer-Greek FA rejects Panathinaikos chief's refereeing attack

Reuters

By Graham Wood

ATHENS, Aug 26 (Reuters) - The Hellenic Football Federation (EPO) has rejected criticism of its handling of refereeing in the Greek Super League by outspoken Panathinaikos president Giannis Alafouzos.

Alafouzos, who owns media outlets Skai television and radio as well as the Kathimerini newspaper, told a news conference on Tuesday that the EPO's decision to recruit Scotsman Hugh Dallas to oversee refereeing issues had not brought any substantial change.

"It seems at the first sign of a contentious decision Mr Alafouzos is attacking referees, something which nobody understands," the EPO said in a statement.

"On the issue of the head referee, Panathinaikos representatives voted positively for Hugh Dallas' appointment, knowing full well how the system will operate with the Scot - who we would like to remind Mr Alafouzos is number two in the UEFA hierarchy."

Alafouzos had criticised the EPO's handling of refereeing in the Super League, saying that "serious wrongdoings" are continuing to blight the country's top flight.

He said Dallas had been brought in "under terms and conditions that we don't know", and added that "no substantial change has occurred and those who control the refereeing system and the penalties etc remain in their positions."

JUDICIAL PROBE

Alafouzos's comments followed a series of television reports by Skai covering a judicial probe into refereeing.

Eleven soccer officials from the EPO and its Central Refereeing Committee (KED), plus two Super League club chairmen and three top-flight referees, are scheduled to give testimony on Sept. 15 in an investigation headed by the Court of First Instance deputy prosecutor Aristidis Koreas.

He is investigating allegations that the draws to decide which match officials are appointed to referee games in Greece's Super League were fixed.

The EPO said that they welcomed the investigation and added that it was Alafouzos who was damaging the judicial process.

"Regarding who speaks and from what phone is not an issue for Alafouzos to judge," said the EPO.

"The investigation is in the hands of the legal system and we would like to stress again that we will not stand in the way of the course of justice.

"The investigation is ongoing and privacy should not be violated by anyone. We will not follow in the footsteps of Skai, nor Mr Alafouzos."

The episode capped a difficult opening round for the Greek top flight, where controversy is never far away.

The news of former FIFA official Dallas being appointed as the head referee of the Super League by the EPO in July was welcomed by many local media observers.

The 56-year-old Dallas has been tasked with overseeing the selection and assessment of referees and their appointments for matches.

The move came after continued pleas from various Greek clubs, including Panathinaikos, for a foreigner to take on the administrative role following several match-fixing scandals in recent seasons. (Editing by Ed Osmond and Toby Davis)

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