Political fallout continues over violent scenes, gun-toting at Thessaloniki football match on Sun.

13 March 2018
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Political fallout continued across the political spectrum in Greece on Monday after the previous evening’s interruption of an important professional football match in the northern city of Thessaloniki, as images of PAOK owner Ivan Savvidis storming the pitch with a handgun in a holster by his side swirled around the world.

In statements on Monday, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras offered a more general statement, namely, of a “Gordian Knot” of Greek football needing to be cut, regardless of the political cost.

Savvidis has been increasing friendly with the leftist-rightist Tsipras coalition government since it rode to power in January 2015. The Greek-Russian investor and businessman has pressed for the elimination of a 44-million-euro fine previously imposed – under different management – on a cigarette-maker (SEKAP) he subsequently purchased, he is also a partner in a consortium declared the winning bidder for the Thessaloniki Port Authority and even ventured into the local media sector.

Tsipras’ comments came during a meeting with the head of a small centrist party in Parliament, Stavros Theodorakis. The latter, in fact, commented that “mafiosi gravitate to football in all countries … However, if we do not now impose strict rules and laws, if we don’t take heads, we’ll be repeatedly faced with such behavior.”

Speaking from Boston and in comments to a local Greek-language radio program, main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis said the government’s promise of cleaning up professional football in the country is hallow, adding that the images from seen from PAOK’s Toumba field a day earlier are not acceptable.

A well-known New Democracy MEP, Giorgos Kyrtsos, was much more scathing, referring to an “amalgamation of Russian oligarch corruption, political reasoning a la Maduro and SYRIA hypocrisy,” a statement that combines Savvidis’ origins in the one-time Soviet Union, Venezuelan strongman Nicolas Maduro and the leftist ruling party, SYRIZA.

He also warned that “rigging the (football) championship by the government in favor of PAOK will cost it dearly”.

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