Greece to investigate matchfixing claims

ATHENS - The Greek Sports Ministry is to launch an investigation into matchfixing after receiving a report from European football's governing body UEFA.

"The Secretary General of Sports, Panos Bitsaxis, delivered to the District attorney's office of the Supreme Court a file from UEFA, which concerns five football matches from the second division and one from the Super League," said a statement from the Greek Sports Ministry on Wednesday.

"These matches, according to UEFA and with various degrees of suspicion or technical conviction, were possibly pre-arranged.

"A cross-check with two other dossiers which have already been delivered has been requested and a preliminary investigation."

Super League club PAS Yiannina issued a denial they were involved in matchfixing after Greek media reported their 2-1 win over Panthrakikos on January 10 was included in UEFA's report because of unusual betting patterns relating to the game.

"PAS Yiannina would like to express its rage and repulsion concerning the publications that have come to light through television reports and websites," the club said in a statement.

"I invite anyone to look at the match in question, with seven yellow cards, many scoring chances and shots which hit the post, not to mention the injuries suffered by our goalkeeper and find anything suspicious on or off the pitch.

"We express our indignation that Yiannina has become the subject of an incomprehensible, slanderous attack."

Panthrakikos, who were promoted last season but are struggling at the foot of the table, also released a statement, with major shareholder Theodoros Savvakis commenting: "A total of 2,685 supporters followed the game at the stadium and thousands more on live television. Everyone could see the effort made by the team and the chances we created to try and win the game."

These allegations are the latest to beset Greek football.

A previous report from UEFA, concerning only second division teams, has already been forwarded to the Supreme Court and the Financial Crimes Squad.

Also, in December 2009 a preliminary UEFA report was turned over to judicial authorities in Athens for investigation after it mentioned possible match-fixing in 13 matches of the second division and two Greek Cup matches, involving 12 clubs.

A 2004 UEFA Cup match between Panionios and Georgia's Dinamo Tbilisi, which finished 5-2, was the subject of a UEFA investigation after unusually heavy betting, while Egaleo FC were fined in 2006 for "violation of the principles of loyalty, integrity and sportsmanship" and "creating favourable conditions for illegal betting practices" after they fielded a weakened team in an Intertoto Cup match.