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July 04, 2006

FIFA suspends Greece

Proof, as if it were needed, that like some kind of wandering international footballing hex I bring misfortune to anywhere I live. Hot on the heels of England's World Cup exit at the hands of Portugal, Greece has been suspended by FIFA from all international football competitions, affecting both the national side and club sides.

The row stems from a porposed law on professional leagues, which the government has promised to reform several times since 2004, but which it has failed to do so to FIFA's satisfaction. National broadcaster here, ΕΡΤ, quotes an un-named Greek FA source as saying "He (sports minister George Orfanos) even went to Switzerland and tried to ease FIFA’s concerns and promised them various things which of course he did not do".

It isn't the first time that FIFA has been unhappy at government interferance in Greek football affairs. Back in 2001 FIFA were unhappy at legislation proposed by the then PASOK administration that appeared to amount to a personal vendetta by the government against Victor Mitropoulos.

This impacts on England as well - the first game of the Steve McClaren era was due to be England v. Greece in Manchester in August. Now England faces the somewhat appropriate possibility that for that game, not only will they have their second-choice candidate in charge as manager (after Big Phil turned the job down), but they may also have to play second-choice opponents.

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