Greek league set to be suspended

The Greek Super League will suspend top-flight matches next weekend in protest at a new government sports law and a failure of the state-run betting company OPAP to agree a sponsorship deal.

The announcement came 24 hours after football's ruling body FIFA urged the Hellenic Football Federation (EPO) to provide assurances the controversial new law, voted in on Wednesday, would not contradict its statutes on self-governance.

"The board has decided to suspend the 23rd round of games on February 25-26 as a warning," the Super League said in a statement while confirming this weekend's fixtures would go ahead as planned.

The Super League also criticised OPAP for a "13-month delay" in finalising their sponsorship agreement, a deal that according to media reports is worth several million euros.

OPAP froze sponsorship payments at the end of last season because of repeated Greek football violence.

The new government sports law, introduced in an attempt to tackle football violence and the financial problems of clubs in debt-ridden Greece, gives more power to the state-run Professional Sports Commission to impose penalties on teams.

"We have all realised football has become a punchbag for irresponsible politicians," the Super League added.

"Those who are sitting pretty on their parliamentary seats, a little before they are lost in oblivion for good, have found football the easy target for them to show their non-existent sensitivity and daring character."

The EPO had already voiced strong concerns over the new law amid worries about Greece's participation at Euro 2012.

FIFA, which has suspended Greece from international football in the past due to government interference, said on Thursday any contradiction in the statutes of world football's ruling body could have "adverse consequences."

EPO has asked FIFA for a meeting including representatives of the federation, Olympiakos Piraeus and PAOK Salonika - two clubs who are still involved in the Europa League competition.

Greece's cash-strapped second and third-tier leagues had already been suspended due to a players' union strike.


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