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Jul 6, 2006

Greece amends sports bill and awaits FIFA decision

ATHENS, July 6 (Reuters) - Greece submitted a revised sports bill to FIFA on Thursday in a bid to have a ban from all soccer activities lifted by the sport's ruling body. 'The minister has sent the amended bill to FIFA president Sepp Blatter this morning,' a sports ministry official said.

The official refused to say whether FIFA's demands for the Greek football association's full autonomy were met in the revised document. He said it was up to FIFA to make the next move.

On Monday FIFA banned Greece, which won the European Championship two years ago, because it said its proposed sports law was limiting the autonomy of the Greek FA and allowed for state interference in the domestic game.

The FIFA ruling means 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.

The Greek FA had urged the minister to change the law immediately to allow Greek teams to start playing in European competitions as early as mid-July.

The government said on Thursday it was doing everything possible to end the dispute.

However, Sports Minister George Orfanos angered parliamentarians debating the bill and sports officials by threatening to cut off subsidies for the FA if it wanted complete independence.

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