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Greek soccer league’s prestige is gunned down

GEORGE GEORGAKOPOULOS

PAOK owner Ivan Savvidis (right) attacks AEK official Vassilis Dimitriadis.

TAGS: Soccer

Greece’s soccer is rapidly descending into farce after another abandoned game in Toumba, the storming on the pitch by PAOK strongman Ivan Savvidis with a gun under his belt and the federation’s court decision that favored PAOK against the rules, all of which are likely to lead to a temporary suspension of the league.

Reports say the government is considering the suspension of the Super League at least until the sports authorities decide on the fate of various games that have been stained by violence, such as the PAOK vs AEK match that got abandoned on Sunday, the PAOK vs Olympiakos game that never got to kick off and the Olympiakos vs AEK match that led to Olympiakos having three points deducted for a pitch invasion after the final whistle.

It is likely a decision on the league suspension will be announced on Monday, according to sports radio station Sport FM. Deputy Minister for Sports Giorgos Vassiliadis is reported to be in discussions with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras for the immediate suspension of the Super League.

There were also reports about police officers at Toumba obstructing the AEK players from leaving the pitch after the game was stopped.

It is reminded that Savvidis’s companies Makedonia Palace Hotel and Souroti are the main sponsors of the Super League.

Furthermore Savvidis has such close links with the new leadership of the soccer federation, led by Vangelis Grammenos, that the national team will – for the first time in years – host a friendly match at Toumba on March 23, while this and the next Greece match four days later will be screened live on Savvidis-owned TV channel epsilon TV.

As if all this were not enough, PAOK and AEK are also likely to meet in the Greek Cup final once again, after last year’s terrible riots at Volos between the two sets of fans that resulted in dozens of injured fans and police officers.

On Tuesday the federation’s appeals committee is expected to rule on the first-degree decision to deduct three points from Olympiakos’s league tally for the pitch invasion by the Reds’ fans after the league match with AEK in Piraeus. If the decision on the PAOK vs Olympiakos game is anything to go by, Olympiakos should be returned the three points it got docked.

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