Minister feels for soccer fans

In an abrupt change of mind on Wednesday, the government signaled that it would comply with an influential Athens soccer club’s demand to build a new stadium on public land, in one of the densely built-up capital’s few remaining open spaces. Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos, whose brief includes sports, said the government considers the best site for Panathinaikos’s new ground to be the former military camp at Goudi, central Athens. The club – Greece’s richest – has been lobbying for years to relocate to Goudi, drawing indignant protests from local residents who would prefer a park. A few weeks ago, Deputy Minister for Sports Giorgos Lianis had pledged to let the club extend its current home ground on Alexandras Avenue, which holds 15,000. But Venizelos voiced sympathy with the club’s fans. «The delay… has created feelings of doubt, not to say injustice, among Panathinaikos’s supporters,» he said. «I have asked the premier to include the matter among his immediate priorities, so that a decision can be made in early January.»

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