New plan to rein in hooligans

Football officials yesterday agreed to intensify punitive measures against soccer teams whose supporters misbehave during matches, following a string of violent incidents in recent championship encounters. But Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos, who chaired a meeting also attended by his deputy minister for sports, Giorgos Lianis, and the chiefs of the Hellenic Football Federation and the Association of Professional Football Clubs, admitted that the main problem in stopping soccer riots is that legislation against hooligans is rarely enforced. «Unfortunately, this is an issue of brutal violence,» he said. «The law is more than sufficient. What is required is for it to be enforced.» Venizelos said clubs whose supporters cause riots will be penalized with deduction of points and forced to play their next games without spectators, while pitch invasions will automatically lead to games being interrupted or postponed. Earlier this year, the government had decided to make clubs install closed-circuit TV cameras in football grounds to record troublemakers. But this has not yet materialized.