IN.GR

When will the real ‘gang’ that plagues Greek football face justice?

The acquittal of Olympiacos and Vangelis Marinakis unveiled those who orchestrated the campaign against the most successful Greek Football Club of the last decade

25 September 2020

In most news outlets it was treated as news of minimal importance, as if the media were just obliged to record it. In some "incurable" cases, the effort for slander persists. You can tell, if you pay attention to the words that are being "slightly" stressed in the coverage of the unanimous decision of the Ethics Committee of Hellenic Football Federation. You encounter it in the wording and syntax of the "news."

Even after – one more – acquittal of Olympiacos and Vangelis Marinakis – which was the obvious outcome from the very beginning – they will not throw in the towel. It was expected that they would not be bothered by the bursting of yet another "bubble." They knew it from the very first moment. The same goes for the creators of – yet another – narrative that turned into a case in front of the courts.

Their goal, from the very beginning, was to create a situation of that could only be described as a "judicial hostageship" and surround it with a propaganda campaign. They wrote headlines about "shocking decisions" threatening the red-and-whites with demotion, that they were reproduced by "special-purpose" websites with a misleading sports façade, and TV panels willing to serve their cause.

However, it was evident that the case would not be credible to any judges. Given that the main 'witness' of the Olympiacos-Atromitos case, the then technical director of Panathinaikos and now of the Greek national team, Takis Fyssas, would swallow his tongue instead of having to claim that "Fernando Santos's assistant told me, that Fernando Santos told him, that Sa Pinto told him, that Angelopoulos told him, that Spanos told him..." before a court.

The verdict

"There was no evidence in the file of the case that would support the claim about any prearrangement that would determine the outcome of any of the matches under investigation, nor about unlawful interference for the same purpose, neither for serving competitive goals, nor for attaining material gains through betting on the allegedly manipulated matches in question, by any of the persons under disciplinary investigation, and indeed no evidence of guided betting on the same matches, not even on the amount of returns by the betting for any of the parts involved," is stressed in the reasoning of the verdict that definitely ends the legal battle of the "28", at least in what concerns its handling by the supervising organs of Greek football.

This is all true, but "we should also mention that the case remains open in regards to criminal justice, and the trial continues normally in the three-member felony court, where Vangelis Marinakis and 27 more people, face charges for manipulating matches and forming a criminal organization," is what the "incurable" cases add in their articles. Even at the last paragraph. But, as the saying goes, "Better a horrible end than horror without end."

Vangelis Marinakis's Olympiacos is the most successful sports organization in the country. It is possibly the only one who consistently takes steady steps forward, in a decade of uncharted crisis. This is evident through the distinctions, the club's financial vigour, and its successes in Europe. Since 2012, there has been a coordinated effort to discredit the team. History already has recorded who has been doing it and with which purpose. A web woven with patience, but also with contempt for the truth itself...

And this is the most important aspect, because it shows why the masks should be dropped for good. Today's verdict does not simply serve justice. It also offers a real opportunity: For another trial.

For a trial that will bring to justice the real "gang" that keeps Greek football under their control, and occasionally Greek society itself. For a trial that could not take place in any courtroom.

A football stadium would probably be the most suitable place to host it. But who knows, maybe the Hellenic Football Federation could offer Rizoupoli for something like that. Since it was not the stadium to host the cup final, let it be the theatre for something that would give some meaning to its existence.