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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Jul 4, 2006

FIFA ban already hurting Greece, says FA chief

ATHENS, July 4 (Reuters) - The Greek Football Federation launched a fierce attack on the government on Tuesday for failing to amend a sports bill that triggered a FIFA ban from all soccer activities.

As the world soccer governing body's ban came into force, exactly two years after the country celebrated winning the European championship, federation chief Vassilis Gagatsis said it was already hurting and demanded immediate action from the government.

'A UEFA stadium inspection team member who is Greek has been recalled due to the ban, another official for an international match in Malta has also been banned and an official for Champions League qualifiers has been told he could not officiate,' he said.

'And this is just today.'

He also said a Greek team, Larisa, scheduled to play in the Intertoto competition on July 15, could be expelled very soon so a new team could have time to prepare for it.

The government said it had taken 'every measure' to settle the dispute but did not elaborate.

The FIFA ruling means that the national side and club teams are banned from playing any international friendly or competitive matches or any international club matches until the country conforms to FIFA and UEFA regulations.

FIFA warned the government last September that the country would be suspended unless the autonomy of the Greek FA was respected and a new sports bill amended.

The world body said on Tuesday that the bill, due to go to parliament soon, did not guarantee this autonomy and allowed for the state to control aspects of the game in Greece.

'In Greece nothing has been done, ' said FIFA chief Sepp Blatter. 'I chaired a meeting with Sports Minister (George) Orfanos in Zurich and everything was discussed but there has been no move towards a change in the law.'

'This is an alarm for the Greek government and I am sure they will listen to it,' he said.

Gagatsis blamed the government's determination to control soccer in the country.

'The Sports Minister says...I am the state and I will regulate everything,' Gagatsis said. 'It is not so. He promised he would amend the law and he has done other, worse things from what he had promised FIFA.'

A parliamentary committee started debating the bill on Tuesday and the session would last three days. It is expected to go before parliament for a vote next week.

Gagatsis urged the government to amend the bill and get the ban lifted within a week. He is due to meet FIFA president Sepp Blatter later this week.

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