Cyprus Mail
Sport

Greece suspends professional football indefinitely

Trouble from the stands marred the weekend's Athens derby

By Graham Wood

Matches in Greece’s professional football leagues have been suspended indefinitely in a crackdown on violence, the Super League said on Wednesday.

The move follows a pitch invasion at the end of the Athens derby last weekend and a Super League board meeting which ended in a brawl on Tuesday, with Greece’s recently-elected Syriza ruling party aiming to stamp out the problem of crowd violence.

“What we have been informed is that the Super League and the Football League have been suspended indefinitely,” Super League president Giorgos Borovilos told reporters.
“We have a new government who are looking to bring this subject up for discussion and implement state laws related to it.”

Greece’s Sports Minister Stavros Kontonis met Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Wednesday to discuss the matter and held further meetings with Super League president Giorgos Borovilos.

Borovilos said it had not yet been decided how long matches would be suspended and on what conditions they would resume, adding that “some things are not done in one or two weeks.

“The government wants games to start again as soon as possible, but for that they want to see immediate reactions from all of us,” he said.
“There will be further discussions between ourselves, the board of the Hellenic Football Federation (EPO) and the Football League where we will see how we can build legislative frameworks and implement security measures to ensure football is safe”.

It is the third time this season that professional football in Greece has been shut down.
Matches were halted for one week last September following the death of a fan after violent clashes at a third division match between Ethnikos Piraeus and Irodotos.
The authorities then suspended games last November after Christoforos Zografos, assistant director of the Central Refereeing Committee (KED), was taken to hospital following a violent assault.

Panathinaikos’ 2-1 derby win over Olympiakos Piraeus over the weekend ended with a pitch invasion after flares were thrown onto the field at various times during the match, one of which hit the Olympiakos midfielder Pajtim Kasamion the arm.

Kontonis told national TV news channel Skai: “What went on during the (Athens) derby and what has been happening in other stadiums in the past has surpassed all limits… fans invading the pitch, throwing flares that are aimed to hurt people; all this is unthinkable and this situation cannot continue.

“The government will not simply monitor these phenomena in silence. What happened yesterday shows the reality.
“When we see this violence from the stadium go to a boardroom of a football institution, then you understand that the situation is completely out of control.”

A Super League board meeting ended abruptly on Tuesday when a verbal spat between Olympiakos Piraeus president Evangelos Marinakis and his Panathinaikos counterpart Giannis Alafouzos sparked a violent scuffle with tensions high following the trouble at the Athens derby.

The incident meant the meeting between the presidents of all Greece’s top flight clubs came to a premature end with Alafouzos telling reporters his deputy Vasilis Konstantinou suffered a cut lip from a blow by one of Marinakis’ bodyguards.

“We were assaulted,” he said. “Mr Marinakis threw a glass of water at me and then his bodyguard threw a punch at Mr Konstantinou. I cannot believe that a Super League board meeting had such violence.”

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