Greek league chief linked to corruption scandal

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The Independent Online

Greece's top football league official and chairman of champion Olympiakos was named by judicial authorities Friday as a suspect in a major bribery scandal that has shaken the sport in the country.

Judicial authorities said Vangelis Marinakis was among 68 suspects named Friday — a list that also includes national team and Olympiakos defender Avraam Papadopoulos, agents, businessmen, retired referees, and club officials, mostly from the country's second division.



Marinakis, who was charged with complicity in the activities of a criminal organization, angrily denied any wrongdoing.



"These allegations have nothing to do with me and have no effect on me whatsoever," Marinakis said. "There is not one shred of evidence against me."



The scandal broke as the country is grappling with a debt crisis that has brought it to the brink of financial collapse, prompting weeks of demonstrations in central Athens against alleged corruption by public officials.



The match-fixing investigation was launched after Uefa gave Greek authorities a report citing irregular betting patterns, mostly involving Greek Cup and second division games in 2009 and 2010.



Earlier this month, the Greek Football Association suspended its operations for two weeks to press the government and professional clubs to participate fully in an effort to clean up the sport.



"It is our aim to shed as much light as possible on this case," FA chief Sofoklis Pilavios said. "Our priority at the moment concerns the very serious criminal charges that have been brought against the (suspects)."



Pilavios added that the FA would hold an emergency meeting on Monday.



Friday's announcement — waiving customary privacy protection rules for criminal suspects — brings the number of people charged as a result of the football corruption probe so far to 85.



Ten of those suspects were arrested and detained this week, after being charged with money laundering and participation in a criminal organization — offenses that warrant fast-track prosecution. Marinakis and Papadopoulos have not been arrested.

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