Court hands the title to Olympiacos
Monday 21 April 2008
by Vassiliki Papantonopoulou from Athens
Olympiacos CFP have been confirmed as Greek champions after a case that would have seen them docked three points was dismissed by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
The destination of the title had been thrown into doubt after Apollon Kalamarias FC appealed against a decision to award them a technical defeat in a game against Olympiacos on 3 February, which the strugglers won 1-0. Kalamarias were penalised for fielding a player, Roman Wallner, who had already played for two clubs this season – Scottish sides Falkirk FC and Hamilton Academical FC.
Kalamarias petitioned the CAS, preventing the Hellenic Football Federation from handing the Greek crown to Olympiacos. AEK Athens FC would have triumphed had the CAS overturned the original decision, but in the event the independent Lausanne-based body upheld the first ruling – enabling Olympiacos to celebrate their 36th league title and their eleventh in the last 12 campaigns.
Josep Segura, who replaced Panagiotis Lemonis as Olympiacos coach on 11 March, said: "I want to dedicate this victory to the fans, who have helped us a lot, to the players who have gone through some hard times, and to the club's administration for putting their trust in me. The Olympiacos players are great professionals. Our next goal is to win the Greek Cup." Olympiacos completed their fixtures with a 3-1 home victory over Iraklis FC on Sunday.
The success was particularly sweet for Olympiacos captain Predrag Djordjević. The 35-year-old Serbian midfielder has set a Greek record in landing his eleventh championship, while team-mate Christos Patsatzoglou said: "This is the sweetest and – at the same time – the toughest league we have won in recent years. In the final stretch we were more durable than our rivals."
AEK finished the season with Greece's top scorer – 19-goal Ismael Blanco – and also with the Super League's best attacking and defensive records. They now join Panathinaikos FC, Aris Thessaloniki FC and Panionios GSS in the end-of-season play-offs. The winning team will earn a UEFA Champions League second qualifying round slot, with the runners-up securing a place in the same round of the UEFA Cup.