ATHENS: Greek clubs risk being excluded from next season’s European competitions and the national team might even be barred from the 2018 World Cup qualifiers if a dispute over crowd violence escalates.

Earlier this month Greek Deputy Sports Minister Stavros Kontonis ordered the cancellation of the remaining rounds of the Greek cup after the latest outbreak of violence forced the abandonment of a semi-final between PAOK and Olympiacos on March 1.

FIFA and UEFA last week wrote to the Greek authorities requesting the resumption of competition on the grounds that political interference contravened international football statutes.

The punishments range from cautions to fines to suspension of clubs and national teams from international competitions.

Court option

Kontonis has responded by insisting that his decision can be changed only by the courts and that he was acting in the interests of public security and not interference in the administration of the sport in Greece.

He said: “I hope it is understood that the Greek government has no intervention of altering the decision to cancel the Greek Cup competition due to its exhaustive efforts in trying to protect basic social rights such as public order and social peace.

“We declare yet again that the Greek government fully respects the self-governing function of sports federations and is not intervening in the administration, nor on issues related to sports.

“The cancellation of the Greek Cup is another preventive measure designed to protect public safety, which although is particularly serious, is not a punitive measure, and the law actually provides the further step of suspending or cancelling the championship, if it is necessary.”

An appeal from the Greek federation will be heard by the Council of State next Tuesday.