(Reuters, AP) – UEFA, European soccer's governing body, said on Thursday it had not yet found any evidence of match-fixing in its ongoing investigation into a Euro 2004 qualifier between Armenia and Greece in September.
UEFA last month appointed a disciplinary inspector to look at claims made by Ruben Hayrapetian, president of the Football Federation of Armenia (FFA). Hayrapetian had alleged that approaches were made to Armenia to fix the game in favor of Greece. Greece, who won the September 6 game in Yerevan 1-0, has denied any wrongdoing.
UEFA said in a statement on Thursday: "As the situation stands at present, it is clear that there was nothing irregular about the UEFA Euro 2004 qualifier in question. There are no indications from which it could be inferred that either the Hellenic (Greek) Football Federation or its president were involved in any irregularities. The status of qualifying Group Six is therefore unaffected and the winners will be decided on the field of play."
Greece's win moved it to the top of the table and it needs only to beat Northern Ireland in Saturday's final group game to guarantee qualification for next year's finals. The second-placed Spain faces Armenia in Yerevan
Hayrapetian’s accusations focused on Yervand Sukiasian, a former national team player now living in Greece, who allegedly said he had been ordered by Greek soccer boss Gagatsis to pay off the Armenians. Sukiasian, who acts as an agent of Armenian players in Greece, denied any involvement. The Greek Football Federation also slammed the accusations as "shameless lies and a product of fantasy."
UEFA said the full investigation would be complete by the end of the month. It said that its disciplinary inspector had made written inquiries and verbal questionings, including with "the alleged contact in Greece" - in other words Sukiasian - and the president of the Armenian FA. "Moreover, audio recordings are currently being analyzed and being compared with recordings of the accused."
(Photolur photo: Ruben Hayrapetian.)