What a difference a year (or two) makes. Two summers ago Greece were celebrating being crowned European champions. A year later, they are left wondering when they will play international football again as FIFA suspended them from all international competition over government interference in the sport. The ban extends to the involvement in international club competitions. A spokesman for the Hellenic Football Federation claimed that “it was not something we had expected“. This is a strange statement to make given that FIFA had warned that a ban would follow as early as 2004 unless the state stopped interfering. Instead of heeding the warning however, the Greek sports minister George Orfanos introduced a law effectively legalising state intervention in the sport. Since then there has been constant bickering between the HFF and the government leading to today’s embarrassing outcome. Only in Greece….
3rd July 2006