Incident-Free Greek Cup Final Prompts Epo Grexit Optimism
Optimism of avoiding a footballing “grexit” is now sky high in the corridors of the Hellenic Football Federation (EPO) according to local reports following the recent incident-free staging of the Greek Cup final.
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With the threat of a potential FIFA and UEFA ban still lingering over Greece following a season plagued by crowd violence, astonishing pitch invasions and dozens of incendiary statements from the country’s top clubs, EPO were more relieved than most when the showpiece on May 12 between AEK and PAOK went off without a hitch.
The EPO executive committee had taken the final as a final “acid test” taking into account that a foreign referee in David Fernandez Borbalan was appointed and a three-man delegation from FIFA and UEFA wad present at the Olympic Stadium to monitor everything with a microscope.
In the event, apart from a few firecrackers and small-scale scuffles between fans and police mostly outside the ground, the final went very smoothly, with PAOK winning comfortably 2-0 to retain the trophy.
The biggest winner though is set to be Greek football, as according to EPO insiders, the reports from the FIFA-UEFA observer team were “very positive.”
Whether than means Greece avoid a FIFA and UEFA ban come what the end of May when the FIFA executive committee meets remains to be seen, but all the indicators point to the fact that the danger of a grexit has now subsided.
And that can only be a positive development for Greek football, with SuperLeague champions AEK anb cup holders PAOK looking forward to Champions League football next season, while the likes of Olympiacos, Atromitos and Asteras Tripolis representing in the Europa League.
Despite that, EPO know that they have to improve the overall picture of how Greek football is managed - both to appease concerns from FIFA and UEFA, but more importantly to raise the profile and image of the game amidst an atmosphere of mistrust and dwindling attendances.