Greek football: Guns, threats and…somewhere in the distance a game…

12 March 2018
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The match between PAOK Thessaloniki and AEK Athens for the Greek Super League, which was interrupted seconds before its conclusion, when a disputed PAOK goal led to a pitch invasion by PAOK owner Ivan Savvidis, who appeared to be carrying a gun in its holder was apparently awarded to APAOK, as the referee Kominis closed the march report after 2 hours indicating that he had conclusively stopped the match with PAOK leading 1-0. .

Fernando Varela scored in the 90th minute, putting host PAOK ahead 1-0 in the northern city of Thessaloniki. The referee signalled a goal but then seemed to disallow it for offside.

PAOK’s owner, businessman Ivan Savvidis, came on the field twice and was accompanied by bodyguards. On the second occasion, without the overcoat he was wearing before, Savvidis appeared to be carrying a pistol which was in its holder. Savvidis made no move to use the weapon at any time.

AEK officials claimed Savvidis threatened the referee during his first foray onto the pitch, before being pulled away. They claim he also threatened AEK’s operations manager, Vassilis Dimitriadis. AEK said it will file a complaint with FIFA and UEFA, the world and European soccer governing bodies.

PAOK said in a statement: “After what happened today, PAOK chairman Ivan Savvidis is preparing all necessary procedures to protect the team and all his collaborators from the threats and attacks they have been subjected to. There will be relevant announcements on the issue soon.”

AEK claimed that their team manager Vassilis Dimitriadis had been physically threatened, while stressing that the atmosphere had become too threatening for the game to resume, despite the referee reportedly being in favour of resuming before deciding against it. According to the cable network covering the match. Nova sports, the referee wrote in the match report that Ivan Savvidis had invaded into the pitch violently, while he violently pushed AEK general manager Vassilis Dimitriadis. Based on Article 19 of the disciplinary clauses of the football regulations, PAOK could be penalised with relegation if it is proven that the owner threatened opponents.

Meanwhile, AEK Athens are sending all the information and incriminating evidence to UEFA and FIFA for revision.
PAOK’s previous home game — against another title rival, Olympiakos — never started after Olympiakos coach Oscar Garcia was hit in the face by a cash register paper roll.

The latest incident has thrown the outcome of the season into further disarray.
“Images of team owners invading the pitch armed are setting back soccer for years,” Deputy Culture Minister for Sports Giorgos Vasileiadis said in a statement after the game. After claiming that the current season was the “cleanest and most exciting” because of the government’s attempt to clean up the game, Vasileiadis said “we will not allow anyone to divert us from our task, even if we have to, in consultation with UEFA, to take difficult decisions.” That has been widely interpreted as a threat to suspend the entire league.

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