Olympiakos head axed for crime activities

ATHENS - Vangelis Marinakis, owner of Greek champions Olympiakos Piraeus, has been banned from football, as an investigation continues into allegations that a criminal organisation is controlling the sport in Greece.

According to judicial sources, the shipping magnate has also been ordered to report to police every 15 days on strict bail terms.

Marinakis was released on bail of €200,000 (S$303,800) after giving testimony to Athens prosecutor George Andreadis in a seven-hour hearing. He is accused of being involved in and directing a criminal organisation, blackmailing, extortion, bribery and fraud.

He must now quit as president of Olympiakos, but he can retain ownership of the company that runs the club.

He later released a defiant statement via the club's website saying: "I want to assure the supporters of Olympiakos that today's decision has no impact on our team. I remain the major shareholder of our Olympiakos.

"We will announce decisions on our plans for the 2015-2016 season, which have already been designed and launched with the aim of winning the Greek championship and enjoying a great run in the Champions League."

However, according to media reports, runners-up Panathinaikos and third-placed Paok Salonika have prepared complaints to Uefa that question whether Olympiakos should be allowed to compete in Europe.

Marinakis' hearing came 24 hours after former Hellenic Football Federation (EPO) president Giorgos Sarris was banned from football as he faces charges including constituting and directing a criminal organisation, fraud, blackmail and bribery.

The latest Greek football scandal emerged in April when it was alleged that Marinakis and EPO officials Sarris and Theodoros Kouridis were responsible for directing a criminal organisation since 2011 with the aim of "absolute control of Greek football's fate by the methods of blackmailing and fraud".

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 20, 2015, with the headline 'Olympiakos head axed for crime activities'. Print Edition | Subscribe