By Graham Wood
Greece’s top flight Super League will resume this weekend behind closed doors after the government on Wednesday lifted the suspension imposed last week after trouble at the Athens derby.
“The government’s decision is that this weekend’s games will be held behind closed doors without supporters and then we’ll look at that again for the following round of matches,” deputy sports minister Stavros Kontonis told reporters.
He announced the news barely an hour after Super League and Hellenic Football Federation (EPO) officials had said nothing would be decided until Thursday,
Kontonis had held talks with Super League president Giorgos Borovilos and EPO chief Giorgos Girtzikis all day to discuss the clubs’ blueprint of proposals for tackling violence.
“We had a long discussion and there is a road map to address and combat violence, I hope we can keep to this road map point by point,” Kontonis said.
“The road map includes measures to combat violence, some of which will be implemented from tomorrow (Thursday) and others from the new season because they require changes to the disciplinary code.”
Kontonis said immediate measures included stopping games where there were pitch invasions and crowd violence, fines and points deductions while next season the priority was “electronic ticketing, addressing violence in general and financial fraud.”
Kontonis’ announcement came as a surprise because an hour earlier Borovilos and Girtzikis had given statements saying the government’s decision would be made on Thursday.
The Super League was suspended on Feb. 26 following a pitch invasion at the end of Panathinaikos’s 2-1 derby win over Olympiakos Piraeus the previous weekend and after a Super League board meeting ended in a brawl.
Greece’s recently-elected Syriza ruling party is determined to stamp out the problem of crowd violence.
It was the third time this season that professional football in Greece had been shut down.
Matches were halted for one week last September following the death of a football 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.