The scourge of sports fan violence in the northern port city of Thessaloniki came to the fore again on Tuesday with the murder at dawn of a 19-year-old man in the eastern district of Harilaou. It was the latest link in a chain of bloody incidents and a reminder that the violence that started in the spectator stands has now spread to the streets.
People on Tuesday placed candles, flowers and notes, as well as scarves and jerseys of Aris sports club at the site where the victim, 19-year-old Alkiviadis Kampanos, was killed Tuesday in a knife attack that is believed to be related to rival soccer fan clubs in Thessaloniki.
Kampanos, a student, was sitting with four friends when a group of at least 10 individuals traveling in two cars pulled up asking them which club they supported. They then attacked them with sharp objects, one of which resembled a sickle.
The 19-year-old was stabbed in the upper thigh and bled to death while two of his friends, aged between 18 and 20, were being treated for injuries to the head and buttocks.
Police have remanded 15 suspects in connection with the assault. One of them, a 27-year-old, was arrested.
A neighbor who lives next to the place where the incident took place, Lambros Pseftakis, told Kathimerini he heard a commotion and by the time he got to the scene, the ambulance had already arrived. “My neighbor told me she could hear the young man shouting, ‘Don’t hit me anymore, guys.’” he said.
Kampanos was a fan of the Aris team, but was not a club member.
It was for many pundits the culmination of similar incidents of fan violence, which seem to be constantly increasing.
“There is an increase in fan violence, especially in recent months in Thessaloniki,” said Stella Doukou, a professor in the Department of Physical Education and Sports Science at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki.
“Sometimes people resort to violence when they are oppressed, discriminated against, socially excluded or deprived, or when they feel out of control,” she said.
“It was the cold-blooded murder of a 19-year-old child who, according to the testimonies, was a victim of the street ‘patrols’ conducted by assailants who were thirsty for blood,” the Aris club said in a statement.