NEWS

Fan club websites indulge taste for soccer violence

There are moments when one genuinely wonders: Do the powers that be have the faintest desire to combat violence on the soccer field? Not a bit, appears to be the answer, if one is to judge from the web pages of organized soccer fan groups – the same ones that submit applications to the general secretariat for sports, Nikos Exarchos, for recognition. Recognition of what, one asks? Their reprehensible actions, which should be the business of the police and judiciary? (Though it must be said that sources have told Kathimerini that Attica General Security has finally begun to give the issue the solemnity it deserves and to study organized fan groups’ websites.) So what’s the story on the websites, given that these samples of vileness have been circulating on the Internet for some time now? We typed in three electronic addresses, all strictly unsuitable for children, those of Olympiakos, Panathinaikos and AEK fans. All three have been constructed by the three big Athens teams’ most important groups of organized fans in the stands. Organized fans have great power. For example, Kountouris, a representative of the «Gate 7» fan group, sits in on the Olympiakos club’s management board. What reply would he be able to give us with respect to certain photographs on the Gate 7 website, which should be subject to an immediate investigation by a prosecutor? And the investigation should not just be confined to Gate 7, but extended to the websites of other fan groups as well. For instance, on the «Gate 13» (Panathinaikos) website, there is a sketch showing Panathinaikos fans carrying guns (whether they were Kalashnikovs was not clear, and is anyway immaterial). Those of us who spend most of our lives at Greek sports grounds and run the concomitant danger would not be the least surprised to see real guns soon, as hinted at by organized fan websites. After all, the murderous flares now fired from the stands began with small pistols. On the Gate 7 site, we saw how its members proudly advertised the ambushes they sprang on AEK and Aris fans on national roads. We saw their murderous attack inside a bus on a Thessaloniki team fan. If all this is not evidence enough to launch a purge of the world of organized fans, then what is? Club owners should be the first to be laying charges before the judicial authorities, but perhaps it’s too much to expect them to turn on their own creations. But the Greek State has a serious obligation to Greek society to act. It should seek out the creators of these websites. It should arrest those responsible. It should dissolve these associations which have nothing to do with sport. Their actions are more akin to those of a terrorist organization. There are no excuses for the inertia of the State, police and judiciary. A start should be made. Publication on the Internet of pictures that might equally have been taken on the battle or soccer field – one can’t tell the difference – constitutes an offense. Kathimerini has said a thousand times that flushing the dropouts of Greek society – those who flaunt the beating of a policeman or a fan – out of the soccer world is purely a question of political will. It’s not as if evidence doesn’t exist. In any other country where laws are enforced, such a matter would be of direct concern to the authorities. In Greece, however, everything has been reduced to nothingness. We hope that this is not true of human life, gambled with weekly in the stadiums by those selfsame organized fans who advertise, without the least hindrance or hint of shame, their actions in cyberspace. Kathimerini is waiting for answers – from the competent ministries, the police and club owners.