Electronic money exchangers listing
Find Cheap Textbooks - Save on New & Used Textbooks at AbeBooks.com

Greek Superleague suspended after team owner invades pitch with a gun

Rate this item
(0 votes)

Greece’s Superleague has been suspended indefinitely and the country threatened to be banned from world football as the government scrambled to contain fallout from the extraordinary scenes witnessed on Sunday when the gun-toting oligarch owner of Paok Salonika stormed on to the pitch in a fit of fury to challenge a goal.

Athens’ leftist-led administration, facing widespread criticism of the lawlessness into which the country’s league has sunk, announced that all top-flight games would be brought to an immediate halt. “We have decided to suspend the championship indefinitely,” the deputy sports minister Giorgos Vassiliadis told reporters after holding emergency two-hour talks with the prime minister, Alexis Tsipras.
“The most important thing is that rules apply to everyone. We are in communication with Uefa and the championship will not resume unless there is a new and clear framework, agreed by all, to move forward with rules and regulations.”

Speaking hours after the announcement of an arrest warrant for Paok’s proprietor, Ivan Savvidis, the politician insisted the government would not renege on its decision whatever the “political cost”.

“We are not going back, we will continue the fight for transparency and a better football,” he said.

Fifa said that Greece could be suspended from world football if its national governing body fails to take “proper actions by the competent bodies to eradicate all sorts of violence in order to guarantee the smooth running of the national competitions”.

The silver-haired Savvidis twice charged on to the field, holstered handgun clearly visible, during the derby against AEK Athens. In the 89thminute when the referee, Giorgos Kominos, appeared to signal a goal for Paok but then disallowed it for offside, the oligarch lost his cool storming on to the pitch, bodyguards desperately trying to stop him, to confront Kominos. The oligarch – one of Greece’s most controversial figures – is believed to have then threatened the referee saying: “You’re over.”

Up until then, the game had been goalless. In the ensuing tumult AEK’s players walked off the pitch, citing security concerns, and the match was abandoned.

The incident has been acutely embarrassing for Tsipras. His government not only pledged three years ago, when it came to power, to crack down on tycoons and their notorious sway over the Greek economy but has repeatedly vowed to clean up professional leagues, like much of Greek football scarred by hooliganism and spectator violence. To make matters worse Savvidis, born in Georgia of Greek heritage and reputed to be one of Russia’s wealthiest men, has close ties to politicians that have helped him not only infiltrate football but facilitate acquisition of assets ranging from the strategic port of Thessaloniki, in the country’s north, to tobacco and media companies.

A former member of the Russian parliament, Savvidis is also said to be close to president Vladimir Putin. His ever-extending reach in Greece has been cause for growing alarm among western diplomats in Athens.

The government’s decision to act with such alacrity was directly linked to the fierce criticism it has faced in the wake of the incident. Commentators likened the oligarch’s behavior to the slow descent of Greece into “a post-Soviet democracy” under the leftists who, increasingly, have come under fire for tactics perceived to have eviscerated the rule of law.

By late Monday Savvidis was still being sought by police. A statement on Paok’s website said: “Ivan Savvidis is preparing to take all necessary steps to protect the club and all his executors and associates from the threats and attacks they are suffering.”

The tycoon’s press office announced that he was licensed to carry a gun. Under current Greek legislation, however, police are not allowed to enter soccer stadiums with firearms.

The Guardian

Read 429 times

Find Weird Books at AbeBooks.com
E-money exchangers


Flag Counter