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This copy is for your personal non-commercial use only. Other teams have also turned to unconventional financing. But the amateur Voukefalas club — whose players include pizza-delivery guys, students, waiters and a bartender — has raised eyebrows with its flamboyant sponsorship choice.
Prostitution is legal in Greece, where brothels operate under strict guidelines. Though garish neon signs advertising their services are tolerated, the soccer sponsorship has ruffled some feathers in the sports-mad city of Larissa. Batziolas acknowledges the sponsorship took his team by surprise. As Greece heads toward a sixth year of recession, drastic budget cuts have hammered many ordinary people: Retirees have been left to cover their own medical expenses, children have lost school bus services, and sports teams have scrambled to find sponsors as businesses close under the burden of emergency taxes.
They need more help. And even the major soccer clubs sent most of their star players abroad this summer in the face of financial trouble and poor attendance, with fans no longer able to afford tickets. The impact of the crisis on sports is a major local concern. The town of , fielded the only professional club to ever break big-city domination of the league, winning the national championship in She watched quietly, holding a cigarette and wearing a straw fedora with a leopard print band, as her team struggled.
AP writer Costas Kantouris in Thessaloniki contributed to this report. Copyright owned or licensed by Toronto Star Newspapers Limited.
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