Soccer fans run amok in Athens

At least nine people were injured yesterday after rabid soccer hooligans fought police for three hours yesterday afternoon in one of the most densely populated parts of Athens ahead of a crucial championship match. Eight of the victims were policemen, who were injured after Panathinaikos supporters managed to cut off a small group of officers and beat them with crowbars and sticks, while throwing stones and threatening to burn them alive with petrol bombs. The violence started around 4 p.m., over four hours before the match between league leaders Panathinaikos and defending champions Olympiakos Piraeus started at the Athens team’s home ground on central Alexandras Avenue. Panathinaikos fans – no Olympiakos supporters were allowed in, under a new law meant to curb soccer violence – attacked police who used tear gas to dispel them. The violence continued off and on until 7 p.m., when new heavy use of tear gas succeeded in quelling the rioters. Nearly 2,000 officers were on duty. Three suspected hooligans were arrested. The match ended in a 2-2 draw.

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