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FIFA lose patience and suspend Greek FA

Written by: Staff

BERLIN, July 3 (Reuters) FIFA suspended Greece from all footballing activities today, citing continued government interference in the running of the Greek FA (the Hellenic Football Federation).

World soccer's governing body warned the Greek government at its Congress in Morocco last September that it would be suspended from membership unless the autonomy of the HFF was respected.

In a statement today FIFA said there was no possibility of this happening by the imposed deadline of July 15 and the disciplinary committee had suspended Greece as a result.

Greek FA chief Vassilis Gagatsis, who has repeatedly clashed with Sports Minister George Orfanos over the non-independence matter, refused to comment on the suspension.

''At the moment I have no comment to make on this issue,'' Gagatsis told Reuters. ''There will be a press conference tomorrow at 1200 1430 hrs IST dedicated to this matter,'' he said.

Greece are the European champions but failed to qualify for the World Cup finals in Germany.

Orfanos has triggered the wrath of the Greek FA and FIFA after drafting a sports law shortly after the conservatives came to power in 2004 that the FA claims compromises its independence.

Orfanos had repeatedly publicly pledged to revise the law but never did.

A Greek FA source said they had warned the sports minister of the dangers of pursuing such a law.

''He (sports minister) even went to Switzerland and tried to ease FIFA's concerns and promised them various things which of course he did not do,'' the source told Reuters.

''We are now in a position to have a team (AEK Athens) playing a Champions League qualifying match very soon. There is a Greek team in the Intertoto competition and Greek referees scheduled to officiate international matches. They will obviously not go ahead as planned,'' the source said.

''The only way to lift this ban is to change the law. It is as easy and as difficult as that.'' ''This is just disastrous,'' the source said.

Reuters PDS RN2232

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