International

Violence mars Greek football match

2015-11-22 08:31
Soccer Ball (File)

Athens - The Greek league match between host Panathinaikos and arch-rival Olympiakos was postponed after home fans clashed with police before the game and threw flares at Olympiakos players as they walked out onto the pitch.

Referee Andreas Pappas waited half an hour beyond the scheduled Saturday kick-off but eventually decided that the conditions were unsafe.

Clashes between Panathinaikos fans and police started outside the venue about two hours before the game when fans, apparently without tickets, attempted to storm the gates and threw rocks at the police.

Collisions between police and fans continued inside the ground until it was evacuated about an hour after the referee decided not to start the match. Journalists were also set upon.

The empty field was littered with hundreds of broken plastic chairs and a few metal pipes.

A flare thrown from the stands hit Olympiakos forward Alfred Finnbogason in the leg. The Iceland international, on loan to Olympiakos from Real Sociedad, was filming the clashes with his cellphone. Olympiakos officials said he suffered mild burns and was spared a worse injury because he, like his fellow players, had not taken off his tracksuit. Defender Luka Milivojevic was also injured, the team announced.

Olympiakos finally left the central Athens stadium two hours after the game was cancelled, as police made sure nearby streets were safe.

No Olympiakos fans attended the game. It is standard policy in the violence-plagued Greek league not to allow visiting fans to attend.

"Over 50 persons were detained inside and outside the stadium...so far, 16 have been charged" with various offenses, police announced, adding that 3 policemen had been injured in the clashes.

In a statement, Panathinaikos blamed "the individual action of 2-3 fools" for throwing the flares, but also blamed the referee whose "entirely mistaken and irresponsible decision" to abort the game led to the violence, according to the club, which makes no mention of the violent clashes before the game.

Panathinaikos will likely forfeit the game and, depending on the referee's report, it could also be decked points, fined and made to play a number of home games before empty stands.

Olympiakos leads the league with 10 wins in as many games, with Panathinaikos eight points behind and third-place Asteras, 1-0 winner over Atromitos Saturday, a further point adrift with an extra game played. Also Saturday, Giannena beat Kalloni 2-1.

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