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Greece: Respect earned

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Jun 18, 2014

Reports: Maniatis threatens to leave

Greece defender resumed their early evening training session in good spirits. Despite the defeat to Colombia in their opening game, defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos is still enjoying his 2014 FIFA World Cup experience.

Greece player Giannis Maniatis was on the verge of leaving the 2014 World Cup following a dressing-room incident with teammate Giorgos Tzavelas, according to reports.

There has been widespread coverage of the incident in the Greek press, with some outlets claiming Maniatis had gone so far as to book tickets in order to fly back to Greece.

The argument was apparently over a training-ground disagreement, with captain Georgios Karagounis and Panagiotis Kone intervening to keep the players apart.

Maniatis had personally approached manager Fernando Santos about the episode. When the Portuguese coach played down the incident, Maniatis was on the verge of flying home.

However, the Olympiacos defender was convinced to stay by his teammates.

Initially declining to comment to the press, the Hellenic Football Federation (EPO) then released an official statement on the incident.

The EPO described the scenario as "warm" and insisted that the entire team -- players and coaching staff -- were unified and focused ahead of a vital group-stage game against Japan in Natal.

Details about the incident suggest that Maniatis took exception to the way in which Tzavelas was carrying out a training drill.

The latter responded verbally, apparently causing Maniatis to say, "This is the national team, not PAOK," in reference to Tzavellas' club side.

That particular version of events fits neatly within the context of last season's Greek Cup semifinal, in which Maniatis, while playing for powerhouse Olympiakos, had clashed not only with Tzavelas but also Kostas Katsouranis.

In the buildup to the World Cup, there were reports of potential disharmony within the Greece squad, given Maniatis and Katsouranis' recent history.

Those concerns were played down by Santos and his players, but this latest incident provides unwanted attention ahead of Greece's second group game against Japan.

The Greeks lost their opening game of the tournament 3-0 against Colombia.

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