Vangelis Marinakis among 68 suspects

Updated: June 24, 2011, 5:23 PM ET
Associated Press

ATHENS, Greece -- The chief of the Greek soccer league is among the suspects in a bribery scandal that has shaken the sport in the country.

Vangelis Marinakis, who is also the chairman of league champion Olympiakos, was among 68 suspects named by judicial authorities Friday on 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.

Friday's announcement -- waiving customary privacy protection rules for criminal suspects -- brings the number of people charged as a result of the soccer 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.

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.

Late Friday, all 68 suspects, including Papadopoulos, were barred from leaving the country by a court order.

UEFA officials said no action was presently being considered against Olympiakos regarding its participation in the Champions League next season, because evidence in the Greek investigation gathered so far cast no doubt over its 2010-11 league victory.

Marinakis was charged with complicity to commit acts of bribery and match manipulation. He 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."

Details of the alleged scandal were outlined in a 130-page indictment, a copy of which was seen by The Associated Press. The document contains numerous transcripts of recorded telephone conversations -- most filled with profanities and threats of physical violence -- allegedly between corrupt team officials deciding match results, using players and referees.

Bets on the allegedly fixed games were placed online or with betting agencies in Greece, Europe and Asian countries, according to the document.

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.

UEFA's Betting Fraud Detection System, used to analyze soccer bets made around the world, identified 40 Greek matches as suspect.

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 said two federation officials implicated in the bribery scandal had been dismissed for "separate reasons," and added that the federation would hold an emergency meeting Monday. He did not elaborate.


Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press

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