Greece bans spectators at top-flight matches for two months

Greece bans spectators at top-flight matches for two months0

Following the serious injury of a police officer during a volleyball match in Athens last week, Greece’s government announced on Monday that all top league soccer matches must be played without spectators for the next two months.

All Super League 1 matches will be played behind closed doors until February 12, 2024, according to government spokesman Pavlos Marinakis, who spoke at a weekly press conference on Monday.

The volleyball match pitted Olympiacos against Panathinaikos, both of which are owned by the same soccer club.

Marinakis stated that the measure could be prolonged beyond Feb. 12 if top league soccer teams fail to take steps, including as installing cameras and electronic identification systems for their spectators at stadiums, by that date.

The declaration came after a 31-year-old police officer was critically injured by a flare after violent riots that erupted on Thursday during an Olympiacos volleyball match in Piraeus.

Fights between football fans and clubs are common in Greece, both on and off the field before and after games, and the government has attempted to reform the sport.

More than 400 people had been briefly detained over Thursday’s incident which Greek police said was a “murderous attack” of hooligans on riot police, including the officer who remains in hospital in critical condition.

An 18-year-old male confessed to joining the group that attacked the police and throwing the flare that hurt the officer, according to a police official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to Reuters.

According to the semi-state Athens News Agency, the jailed guy was scheduled to testify before a public prosecutor on Thursday.

“For years, criminals in the guise of fans have been committing serious crimes by critically injuring and killing (people),” Marinakis went on to say.

“Neither athletes, nor fans should they suffer from the murderous behaviour of criminal gangs and the pathetic tolerance of a tiny minority of fans,” he said in a statement.

Michalis Katsouris, an AEK Athens fan, was stabbed to death in violent skirmishes before a Champions League match between AEK and Dinamo Zagreb last August.

Following another event last year, the killing of a 19-year-old fan, Alkis Kampanos, in rival fights in the northern city of Thessaloniki, Greece tightened soccer club rules, levied harsher punishments, and boosted police controls.

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