After the latest developments and the resignation of Mr. Bennett, the president of the Super League Evangelos Marinakis asks in an official letter to Authorities not to miss this opportunity to clean up Greek football.
»The imminent break of the Championship due to the Greek municipal elections provides the luxury of time that at any other time we would not have. Temporary solutions, or workarounds – which you seem to favour – cannot be acceptable nor can they be effective» Mr. Marinakis stressed.
»I believe that any such proposal would constitute a clear intention to undermine the Championship» underlines Mr Marinakis.
To K.P. Baltakos
President, Hellenic Football Federation
Executive Committee members,
Professional Football Committee members,
To the Minister of Sports
The incidents over the last few days in the Hellenic Football Federation’s Refereeing Committee constitute nothing more than the formal confirmation of everything we have been saying for months regarding the role of Mr. Bennett, his position in the Hellenic Football Federation’s Refereeing Committee and the plan to distort the Championship, by the specific circuit that placed Mr. Bennett in the position of Chief Referee and “edited» the staffing of the Hellenic Football Federation’s Refereeing Committee, while at the same time making sure to keep you in the position of the President of the Hellenic Football Federation.
Firstly, there was for months a systematic method to discredit the presence of foreign referees officiating Super League 1 Championship matches, then came the method of the «non-availability» of foreign referees under various pretexts and finally the “coup d’état” attempt to violate every agreement that exists between the Federation and the Super League Football Clubs, with the attempt to appoint a Greek Referee in the Panathinaikos – AEK derby, as you did last year.
This fact caused you a panic situation (which contradicts your claim that you «do not interfere» in refereeing issues. Indeed, how did you know the appointment of a Greek referee in the derby before the referee appointments were made public?) and led to the «resignation» of Mr. Bennett due to the reactions caused. Let’s not mock each other: If you think that you «led Mr. Bennett to the exit” and that professional football forgets the role you personally had in the establishment of this particular Chief Referee, you are mistaken.
You are equally mistaken if you think that Mr. Mandalos will continue to appoint the referees.
Anyone who follows Greek football knows that Mr. Bennett only resigned of his salary, because otherwise his role in the Hellenic Football Federation’s Refereeing Committee was decorative. This is proven, not only by his actions since the day he took over, not only by his actions and omissions, but also by the Refereeing Officials appointments for Matchday 6, which happened after his «resignation», by Mr. Mandalos, who has been practically the Chief Referee for months and now came to the foreground.
This is also proven by the appointment of Mr. Mohammed Al-Hakim as Referee in the Olympiacos – Aris match, whose presence in last year’s Aris – PAOK match has been unforgettable to everyone who watched it. The specific appointment, a few hours after the «resignation» of Mr. Bennett from the position of Chief Referee, is not only a provocation but also an insult to the intelligence of the Greek fans.
This is also proven by the entire methodology you personally followed in the matter of Mr. Bennett’s replacement. In the beginning, you (by yourself) convened a meeting of the Professional Football Committee on Wednesday, September 26, on the topic «Chairman of the Hellenic Football Federation’s Refereeing Committee» and quite suddenly tonight you announced the postponement of the meeting on the grounds that after the resignation of Mr. Benett, the reason for convening the meeting, disappeared (!!!).
How does the resignation affect the Professional Football Committee’s meeting? Quite the opposite: It makes it urgent to seek a change concerning the Hellenic Football Federation’s Refereeing Committee. But it seems that such a thing does not serve your personal pursuits. On the one hand, you assure UEFA in private discussions that you expect from the Professional Football Committee to proceed with the relevant procedures for the matter of the Chief Referee, mocking them, and on the other hand you postpone the meeting of the Committee.
I have repeatedly pointed out that you are just as dangerous as Mr. Bennett and you should follow him in his “resignation”.
It is clear that even the pretenses are no longer respected and the operation of the Hellenic Football Federation’s Refereeing Committee in its current form cannot continue.
My opinion, and I will convey this to the Professional Football Committee – which must be convened IMMEDIATELY- is that a decision should be made in order to apply as the Professional Football Committee directly to UEFA (and without any mediation by the Federation) for the proposal of three new leading foreign refereeing officials by UEFA as candidates. One of them to fully take over the operation of the Hellenic Football Federation’s Refereeing Committee, without patrons, without escorts and without instigators.
The specific process must finally be done seriously, with the submission of files/CVs and the selection of the most capable of the candidates on the basis of the experience and proven track record he has in refereeing. And apart from the Chief Referee, there should be two more members of the Hellenic Football Federation’s Refereeing Committee from abroad, so that there is no worn out or corrupt material in the new establishment.
All you have to do is to inform UEFA about the will of Greek football and UEFA to nominate those persons, who should have nothing to do with the Greek reality!
The process has been done in the past, when the «Big 4» Football Clubs of Greece agreed on a Chief Referee, after reviewing their files and CVs, and is the only appropriate one, as opposed to the illegal and irregular Bennett appointment.
The presence of new persons will be able to ensure the upgrading of the level of Referees who come to officiate matches of the Greek Championship and Cup. The existing Hellenic Football Federation’s Refereeing Committee of Bennett, Mandalos, and decorative «obedient» members cannot continue to exist as it has been completely «exposed».
The imminent break of the Championship due to the Greek municipal elections provides the luxury of time that at any other time we would not have. Temporary solutions, or workarounds – which you seem to favour – cannot be acceptable nor can they be effective.
I believe that any such proposal would constitute a clear intention to undermine the Championship.
Personally, I believe that if a definitive solution is not found with the fundamental reorganisation of the Hellenic Football Federation’s Refereeing Committee, the Championship should not restart after the break. This opportunity for catharsis cannot and must not be wasted.
And speaking of purification, I imagine that the Ethics Committee of the Federation, UEFA, the football prosecutor Mr. Spyropoulos and the Deputy Minister of Sports Mr. Vroutsis have already started investigation procedures for Bennett’s complaints about interference in the referees’ appointments. At the same time, explanations will be requested from all of us, as I mentioned above, about the involvement of Mandalos, which does not result from our agreements, from the UEFA Holistic Study or from what the FIFA and UEFA requested, i.e. that only foreigners will be involved in the appointments of referees for the Professional Football!
President, Super League 1