Looking for solutions to sports violence

PM to chair meeting with UEFA President Ceferin, ministers and owners of the big soccer clubs

Looking for solutions to sports violence

In the latest bid to combat fan violence, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis will meet on Wednesday with Aleksander Ceferin, the president of European soccer’s governing body UEFA, in Athens after the deadly hooligan clashes on Monday night on the eve of the Champions League qualifier between AEK Athens and Dinamo Zagreb. 

The two men have already talked on the phone regarding the tragic events that led to the murder of 29-year-old Michalis Katsouris, with the PM’s aides noting that UEFA’s contribution is deemed crucial, given the picture it has across Europe regarding soccer-related violence.

The talks on Wednesday will be followed by a meeting of the two men with relevant ministers, including Deputy Sports Minister Yiannis Vroutsis and Citizen Protection Minister Giannis Oikonomou. The owners of Olympiakos, Panathinaikos, AEK and PAOK have also been invited to attend. 

The government wants the involvement of UEFA in the debate, noting the knowledge and experience Ceferin has on the issues of sports violence and the policies that have been developed in European countries to deal with the phenomenon.

The active involvement of the owners of the four clubs invited to the meeting is seen as critical to ensure that any measures adopted are implemented. 

For its part, the Hellenic Football Federation (EPO), though not invited to the meeting, announced that Ceferin had informed its president of Wednesday’s meeting with the prime minister.

“It was agreed that at the end of the meeting [with Mitsotakis], the UEFA president will inform the president of EPO of what was discussed at the meeting,” the statement said.

A report presented by UEFA and FIFA, the world governing body of soccer, in November 2020 and in October 2021 was voted on by EPO but never implemented. The study identified problems in Greek soccer, with specific proposals. It also stressed that the autonomy of EPO must be fully respected, while also recommending it should focus on the issues of violence and corruption. 

The legal arsenal for dealing with sports violence was recently strengthened with the Violence Bill, in March 2022, after the murder of Alkis Kambanos. It introduced modifications to fan clubs, aiming to make them less likely to serve as incubators for crime and violence.

Subscribe to our Newsletters

Enter your information below to receive our weekly newsletters with the latest insights, opinion pieces and current events straight to your inbox.

By signing up you are agreeing to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.