Talks lined up in wake of ‘shameful’ soccer scenes

The government has pledged to meet with soccer officials after Easter to tackle unruliness in the game following wild scenes at the Greek Cup semifinal between PAOK and Olympiakos in Thessaloniki on Wednesday night, which led to seven arrests being made.

“What happened at the PAOK-Olympiakos game last night shames Greek soccer,” said Deputy Culture Minister Yiannis Andrianos, who is responsible for sporting issues.

“Immediately after Easter, I will convene a meeting with club chairmen and the relevant officials so they are made to live up to their responsibilities,” he added. “We all have to sit at a table and not get up until we agree on a common plan of action.”

Andrianos also said he expected that the police and the judiciary would investigate Wednesday’s events, which were disturbing even by the extreme standards of Greek soccer. Dozens of flares, which are banned from stadiums, were lit ahead of the game at PAOK’s Toumba Stadium. This, along with the dumping of a bag of fish on Olympiakos’s bench, caused the kickoff to be delayed by more than an hour. The game, which PAOK won 1-0 to qualify for the final, frequently stopped due to fighting between the players and dozens of fans ran onto the pitch at the end of the game to attack members of the Olympiakos team.

“I have never seen anything like it in my life,” said Olympiakos coach Michel. “It was the first time that I preferred to lose a game. If we had scored, even worse things could have happened,” added the Spaniard.

A 36-year-old man was arrested for dumping fish on the visitors’ bench, while five others were taken into custody for fighting with police outside the stadium.

PAOK will meet Panathinaikos in the cup final at the Olympic Stadium on Saturday, April 26.