Soccer fan associations shutting down

After meeting UEFA chief and top club owners, PM announces measures to curb violence

Soccer fan associations shutting down

In the aftermath of the latest deadly hooligan clashes earlier in the month, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis declared on Wednesday that associations of organized team supporters will be closed, with only one official association remaining available for each team and operating at each soccer club’s headquarters.

Mitsotakis issued his statement following the conclusion of a meeting at the Maximos Mansion attended by UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin, ministers and the owners of four major soccer clubs: Olympiakos, Panathinaikos, AEK and PAOK.

“The fan clubs will close. Every team will have only one, housed at the team’s headquarters,” Mitsotakis said.

He also stated that the admission through the stadium gates used by organized fans will fall under the jurisdiction of the police, who will be able to conduct checks as needed. The measure is substantial as the responsibility for control has so far been held by club officials. As Mitsotkis said, the four big clubs have agreed to this measure as they obviously understand that the control of violence may be beyond their capabilities. 

A violence observatory will also be set up in cooperation with UEFA and the member-states as it is generally accepted that the phenomenon is not Greek but pan-European. Moreover, it was decided at the meeting with the major four clubs that integrated camera systems will be installed at the stadiums.

The premier expressed hope that the Greek state would not be compelled to enact the most severe sanction, which would be the temporary suspension of Greek teams from European club competitions. He stressed, however, that “I am sure it will not come to that” and noted that soccer team owners had a responsibility to preserve their investments first and foremost. If there are no results, the PM also did not rule out that, down the line, “we will also possibly move to close the gates of organized fans.”

For his part, the UEFA president described fan violence as the “cancer of football.”

“I have spoken many times with the Greek prime minister, openly and with self-criticism, and we know what we must do,” Ceferin said. “These people are not supporters. They use football for their ideas,” he said, using the European term for the sport, going on to pledge that “we will do more to address this phenomenon.”

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