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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Nov 2, 2006

Greece cancels FIFPro World Player awards

ATHENS, Nov 2 (Reuters) - Greece has cancelled the annual FIFPro World Player of the Year award gala, less than a week before it was to be held in Athens, officials said on Thursday.

The awards gala, inaugurated last year and organised annually by FIFPro, which represents professional players worldwide, were initially to be held on November 6.

But doubts over whether the winning players and other guest stars would be present at the ceremony forced Greece's Sports General Secretariat to scrap it.

'The gala will not take place,' a senior secretariat official said. 'There was a lack of guarantees that the players winning the awards, presenters and guest appearances would actually be there.

'A gala without the players is not a gala,' he said. 'So instead of risking having them show up on a video wall, we cancelled the gala after consultation with FIFPro.'

The official said the disagreement was with foreign firms involved in the organisation of the event.

An official who works for an English firm involved in the event, said they were notified on Thursday of the cancellation.

'We were were notified by the Greeks today. They told us the gala will not happen,' the official, who refused to be named, said.

FIFPro could not be immediately reached for a comment but was still advertising the event in Athens on its Web site.

It was not clear whether the players' body would still announce the winners of the vote on November 6, irrespective of the cancellation of the gala.

FIFPro has said more than 42,000 players had voted for the 11 best players in the world. A shortlist of 55 players was announced in October. This includes Italian keeper GianLuigi Buffon, retired France captain Zinedine Zidane and Brazil's Ronaldinho.

Among those planned to appear in Athens were last year's FIFPro award winner Ronaldinho, Brazilian triple World Cup winner Pele and Italian defender Paolo Maldini.