By Aris Barkas/ firstname.lastname@example.org
Olympiacos decision to forfeit the Greek Cup semifinal against Panathinaikos by refusing to play the second half of the game turned heads all over the world. And then, the demands made by the Reds about foreign referees made things even more complicated, especially to the average non-Greek fan.
However, if you follow closely the Greek league during the last decade, this is not a surprise. It’s a well-known fact that Olympiacos has bad faith towards Greek referees and this is not something new. The Reds believe – not without reason – that Panathinaikos has a better relationship with the Greek basketball federation, the authority that controls by law Greek referees and their appointment in the league games. It has to be noted that only in Greece, EuroLeague referees were illegally excluded from local competitions and Olympiacos supported them.
The appointment in the semifinal Cup Game of three referees, Panagiotis Anastopoulos, Tasos Manos and Christos Panagiotou, who are considered hostile by the Reds, was a “casus belli” for Olympiacos. Their decision to leave the game was discussed long before the tip-off. So why they decided to play and then leave when they were down by 15 points? The position of the club is that they wanted to expose the three referees who made their share of questionable calls from the first seconds of the game.
According to the Greek league bylaws, if Olympiacos sticks to the demand of not playing again any game officiated by Anastopoulos, or Manos, or Panagiotou, they might even end up relegated in the second division. To be exact, if the Reds forfeit two more games, then they should be relegated to the second Greek division.
However, Olympiacos is ready to go all the way and not back down. That’s why there are rumors even about the possibility of playing in the Adriatic League next season, while their spot in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague remains guaranteed.
It goes without saying that at this point not only Olympiacos but even the Greek League and by extension Panathinaikos, might be damaged by this peculiar situation and nothing can be considered a certainty for any side anymore.