Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Polish Football Federation pushes back date for new elections in wake of match-fixing scandal

The Polish Football Federation's governing board has pushed back the date of its resignation from Sept. 14 to Oct. 30 despite public pressure to step down in the wake of a match-fixing scandal.

The federation said Tuesday it was forced to delay the new elections after a Polish court rejected the organization's new bylaws that would have allowed it to shorten the time frame for calling elections from 90 to 45 days.

In April, the federation's governing board announced it would step down on Sept. 14, three months ahead of schedule. That decision was meant to pave the way for a vote on new leadership in the fallout of a widening corruption scandal that has rocked Polish soccer and caused a public outcry.

Prosecutors in Wroclaw launched an investigation in 2005 into corruption in Polish soccer. So far, authorities have charged about 120 people — including federation members, coaches, referees, players and club officials — with rigging matches in the top domestic leagues. Twenty-nine clubs have been implicated.

Meanwhile, Poland's top domestic league announced a further delay to the start of it season due to the corruption scandal.

The league postponed the first round of games last week, and league president Andrzej Rusko was quoted by PAP news agency on Tuesday as saying he hopes for play to instead start on Aug. 9.

The decision comes less than a week after a disputed ruling by the country's highest sports arbitration court that could result in two more teams being added to the league.

Earlier this year, the Polish federation relegated Widzew Lodz to the second tier after it was found guilty of match fixing.

Last week, the Polish Olympic Committee's arbitration court ruled that the punishment was too severe and that the statute of limitations had expired on the offense.

That ruling has opened the door for Korona Kielce and Zaglebie Lubin, which the federation also relegated to the second tier for match-fixing, to appeal their demotion and seek reinstatement. The Polish Olympic Committee hopes to rule on those appeals this week.

The postponed first-round and second-round games would be played later during the season.