In whose hands is the sport or how Lefteris Avgenakis devastated Greece
Yeray Vergara
July 9, 2024

How many political positions are filled by individuals who know nothing about their future responsibilities? The political career of Lefteris Avgenakis supports this hypothesis, considering how his brief tenure in power has caused so much discontent. With his now-former party, New Democracy, he served as Deputy Minister of Sports and later as Minister of Agriculture in Greece, and he was repudiated from both positions. A man who politicized sports by selling “cleanliness” while straying from the values that sports uphold. His media downfall was recently cemented by a gross incident at an airport that encapsulates his unfortunate modus operandi.

Avgenakis ignored repeated loudspeaker calls for him at the airport because probably he was busy. To his surprise – but not to others – when he arrived at the boarding gate, it was already closed, and upon refusal to reopen it, he began verbally and physically assaulting an airline employee. The incident was recorded by security cameras, and those who had dealt with him in person were not unfamiliar with such behaviour.

Because of this unacceptable behaviour and under the pressure of public opinion, the Prime Minister deleted him from the parliamentary group of the New Democracy party.

Uncontrolled direction, arrogance, and authoritarianism led him to madness and uncontrollability. Paradoxically, the Greek government had “recruited” Lefteris and appointed him as Deputy Minister of Sports to eliminate stadium violence… With the same precision as hiring a striker to be a goalkeeper.


Detested in the sports sector, where he contributed to the social and competitive regression of Greek sports due to inactivity – in contrast to the social evolution and progress of other countries – he was moved to the Ministry of Agricultural Development and Food. There, he caused compromising situations, and recently reports have surfaced about the squandering of public funds. Among other things, he spent 6,000 euros on flowers to decorate his office, and it remains unknown what happened to the painting that adorned his aforementioned office in the ministry… It simply disappeared when he left.

Returning to sports, from the beginning he showed intentions to govern his area in an absolutist manner rather than addressing the athletes’ requests. An example of this is the press conference of the Athens Marathon in 2019, when he fought with the now-deceased Secretary General of SEGAS (the body responsible for amateur sports and organizing numerous international competitions in Greece), Vassilis Sevastis, which culminated in legislative changes to attempt to control SEGAS. Incidentally, these changes have proven to be unconstitutional.


Another scandal involved Triathlon, whose athletes approached him for help that he ignored from the start. His concern was not to address the athletes’ needs but to hunt down people in the sport who were not aligned with him. To rid himself of these athletes and their media presence, he created a new triathlon federation controlled by his affiliates. For this and in order to be recognised a new federation by the Ministry of Justice, he had to issue a false certification indicating the non-existence of another federation for this sport, when he was in full communication with the existing National triathlon federation, which is also recognised by the World Triathlon Federation, the international body recognised by the IOC. This federation created by Avgenakis includes clubs and athletes from his circle but, logically, lacks recognition by the International Federation, making it the only national federation in the world with federated coaches but no international athletes.

A new case concerning a complaint about excessive expenses of millions euros and opaque procedures came into the news in relation to the Greek Motorized Sport along with the complaints of the Olympic champion of windsurfing Nikos Kaklamanakis about how a sailing champion and potential Olympic medallist was forced to leave the Greek national team because of the then Deputy Minister Avgenakis. New cases of opacity are expected to come into the news soon according to SportsIn.

The interview of the Olympic Medallist Nikos Kaklamanakis in the TV.

Stories like these are just a few from his long list of how he conducted politics in sports, or sports in politics. Instead of solving underlying problems, he created more that will burden Greek society for years. He reintroduced partisanship in sports, questioned the self-governance of sports organizations, and expelled or demoted sports workers simply because they fought for the interests of the sport itself rather than Avgenakis’s interests.


A large part of the Greek community has labelled him as “the worst sports minister in history,” threatening and persecuting athletes and officials who were not to his liking. Now, it is he who faces justice for that violent act captured by airport cameras. Farmers and athletes have long had their own verdict…

May this sad example of Lefteris Avgenakis, by bringing inept conduct to power, serve as a wake-up call to all potential Avgenakis not only in Greece but in the entire world of sports. Because, many times the question arises of whose hands the sport of a country is in, whether those of a sports lover and its values or a politician with partisan interests (Avgenakis went further than all that).

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