Minister urges blitz on rioters

Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos on Monday called for a police and judicial crackdown on soccer hooligans after AEK and Olympiakos supporters rioted during Sunday’s championship match. One fan was stabbed during clashes before the Athens encounter – between two of the country’s top three teams – while hooligans fought in Nea Smyrni on their way to the match venue. Once in the stadium, AEK fans invaded the pitch and attacked riot police forces before kickoff. Of the six arrests, only one was inside the soccer grounds. AEK eventually lost, 1-0. «Violent incidents such as [Sunday’s] are so serious, extreme and provocative as to far exceed the limits of sports justice, for they come under the Criminal Code as acts against human life,» Venizelos said. The minister, whose brief includes sport, said he had spoken to the ministries of Public Order and Justice about the problem, as well as Greece’s top prosecutor. «What has to happen is very simple,» he said. «The police must make arrests, prosecutors must press charges and criminal courts… must impose sentences that befit severe criminal acts.»