KEIR RADNEDGE in MONTE CARLO: UEFA has defended the contentious decision to admit Olympiacos of Greece to the group stage of the Champions League where they are matched with Bayern Munich, Arsenal and Dinamo Zagreb.
Vangelos Marinakis, shipping magnate of the record Greek champions, has been barred by a local court from football activity and released on bail which includes a police reporting restriction.
Marinakis has been charged with ?? allegations concerning matchfixing and criminal conspiracy in a long-running corruption saga. In the meantime he was present in Monaco on Thursday, delivering openly his reaction to the Champions League draw in a string of media interviews.
Two years ago UEFA barred Fenerbahce from competing in the Champions League because of a major matchfixing case in Turkey which saw their own president detained for more than a year.
No such restriction has been imposed on Olympiacos because UEFA’s disciplinary bodies insist they cannot prejudge the outcome of pending legal proceedings. Last Tuesday an attempt by Panathinaikos, runners-up to Olympiacos last season, to have Olympiacos kicked out of Europe was rejected by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
After the European competition draws in Monaco this week UEFA general secretary Gianni Infantino defended the European federation’s overall record in combating matchfixing and also the manner in which was handling the Olympiacos case.
Infantino said: “If there is any organisation leading the fight against matchfixing then it’s UEFA with all the things we have done.
“We have disciplinary inspectors and bodies looking into these cases and Olympiacos have qualified for our competition on sporting merit.
“They sent in the admission form and put in it a note a note about these proceedings and the general secretary of UEFA – myself – sent the case to our disciplinary body and our appeals body.
“Based on the evidence they decided provisionally to admit Olympiacos to our competitions. This is the same procedure as has been used every year for several clubs suspected of matchfixing.
“The decision was appealed by Panathinaikos to CAS which has confirmed the UEFA decision in full knowledge of the evidence which is on the table.”
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