ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece’s prime minister will meet the head of UEFA, government officials said on Tuesday, in a bid to undertake a complete overhaul of Greek soccer which has been mired in corruption and violence for decades.
Amid dwindling attendances and the damaging effects of a debt crisis, Greek soccer has been in turmoil despite government assurances that issues would be tackled, with top teams relegated due to financial problems and frequent closed-door matches because of crowd violence.
The meeting in Athens between Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Aleksander Ceferin, the president of European soccer’s ruling body, comes after parliament passed legislation last week easing sanctions on soccer clubs whose bosses own shares in multiple teams.
“It is a positive first step that the President of UEFA Ceferin has accepted the prime minister’s invitation and will visit Athens in the coming period,” government spokesman Stelios Petsas said.
The amendment passed by parliament was met with protests and rejected by opposition lawmakers and some ruling party members, prompting Mitsotakis to expel from his party European Parliament deputy Theodoros Zagorakis, a former captain of Greece’s national team.
Mitsotakis also plans to meet Gianni Infantino, the president of world soccer’s governing body FIFA, this month, a government official said.
Mitsotakis, who came to power in July, wants to show that his conservative government is determined to introduce reforms in the way soccer is organised in Greece.
State Minister George Gerapetritis met Ceferin and other officials in Geneva this week to discuss ways to crack down on match-fixing and soccer violence, Petsas said.
Greece were crowned European champions in 2004 and qualified for the World Cup finals in 1994, 2010 and 2014.
Reporting by Renee Maltezou, editing by Ed Osmond