A strange feud has embroiled Greek rugby league ©GRLA/Facebook

The Hellenic Federation of Modern Pentathlon (HFMP) has responded defiantly to the Rugby League International Federation (RLIF) as the peculiar feud involving the two sports in Greece continued. 

Despite being a completely different sport, the HFMP has been recognised by the Greek Government as the national body which runs rugby league.

This arrangement is not endorsed by the RLIF who instead recognise the Greek Rugby League Association (GRLA) as its official member.

They have described the situation as "baffling" and claim the row may force Greece's home World Cup qualifier against Scotland in November to be played in England.

This is due to legal issues, with the courts and police both reportedly becoming involved.

Tasos Pantazidis, the founder and President of the former Hellenic Rugby League Federation (HFRL), is a key figure in the dispute and he is now in charge of the HFMP.

The HFRL was suspended by the Rugby League European Federation in 2015 after being accused of misleading the governing body about its financial management, with the GRLA formed in its place.

According to the RLIF, Greece have had to play matches late at night to avoid detection by police following complaints from the HFMP.

Key individuals have reportedly been questioned at police stations with the modern pentathlon body failing in a court bid to prevent the GRLA from fielding a national side.

In a statement send to insidethegames the HFMP claimed different sports being governed by the same body was not uncommon in Greece, however, and that police attend sporting events for safety reasons.

The RLIF, which said the HFMP statement was "full of inaccuracies", has said it may have no choice but to pursue further legal action and said correspondence with the International Modern Pentathlon Union (UIPM) had ended with the world governing body unwilling to interfere.

The UIPM told insidethegames earlier this month that it had no interest in governing another sport but that its Greek member was in good standing. 

In its statement, the HFMP said the RLIF should work instead on gaining recognition from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Global Association of International Sports Federations (GAISF).

"It is really embarrassing that the RLIF, an organisation that is not recognised by the IOC, decided to attack and threaten once more the Hellenic Federation of Modern Pentathlon," the HFMP told insidethegames

"They did not hesitate, either, to interfere in the relations between the HFMP and the UIPM. 

"More than that they criticise the UIPM decision to continue their excellent relations with their member, HFMP.

"Additionally, the RLIF continues attacking Mr. Anastasios Pantazidis. 

"They choose an 'ad hominem' attack in order to put the eyes off the real agenda, which should be the fulfillment of the GAISF criteria for recognition.

"In Greece, the membership quota for a sports federation is 20 clubs. 

"Due to that quota, some sports are part of other sports' federations.

"Rugby union is part of the handball federation, field hockey, baseball, softball and bowling are part of the gymnastics federation.

"This is also the situation with triathlon and rugby league. 

"Both sports are part of the modern pentathlon federation since 2016, due to the 20 clubs quota.

Greece are on the verge of qualifying for the 2021 Rugby League World Cup ©GRLA/Facebook
Greece are on the verge of qualifying for the 2021 Rugby League World Cup ©GRLA/Facebook

"Since 2016 the HFMP runs Championships, cups and – of course – the national team. 

"Men, women and kids from 10 official clubs have participated in various rugby league events, organised by the HFMP/RL Committee.

"The truth is that GRLA was found almost one year after the recognition of rugby league as part of the Modern Pentathlon Federation. 

"Since then they act as the federation's rivals."

The HFMP added that sporting events in Greece needed to have a "license".

"The police, in many cases, go to fields asking for the licenses, even in our matches," they said.

"When the organisers show to the police the documents, the police just leave. 

"But in the cases the licenses haven't been issued, they prosecute the organisers. 

"It is a typical procedure but it proves that some organisations act legally and some others don't.

"In any case, replying to the RLIF threat of getting the HFMP to courts, it would be an interesting situation, as the accuser could be proved to become the accused."

Greece will qualify for the 2021 World Cup in England if they finish in the top two of a three-team group which, as well as Scotland, also features Russia.

They have already won the Rugby League European Championship C to reach this phase and were supposed to travel to Russia and host Scotland.

However, the Scotland game can not go ahead in Greece without permission from the Government and the HFMP.

"Finally, we would like to clarify that we work hard for the good of the sport and for the good of the athletes," the HFMP statement continued. 

"This is why we provide full institutional protection to all participants and at the same time we have invited several times through the press and the web media, all the rugby league players and teams, to join the Federation, without special requirements, without discrimination and any kind of prejudice. 

"We still wait for the 'other side' to respond."

Danny Kazandjian, the global operations manager of the RLIF, has previously described the matter as "one of the more bizarre set of circumstances that we have ever faced".

"The Hellenic Federation of Modern Pentathlon statement is full of inaccuracies and does not address the crucial point; its involvement with rugby league is not recognised by the RLIF, which is the autonomous international federation of the sport," the RLIF said to insidethegames today.

"International federation endorsement is enshrined in Greek sport law and is a central principle of international sport. 

"The RLIF cannot guarantee the physical or moral wellbeing of anyone participating in activity illegitimately labelled as 'rugby league' which is organised by the HFMP, as it is operating outside all of the technical and operational rules of the RLIF.

"The RLIF and its member GRLA continue to have discussions with the relevant authorities about the status of rugby league in Greece in order to resolve this matter as promptly as possible."