Footballers pay for AEK’s woes

The union of Greece’s professional footballers urged police protection for members of one of the country’s top teams after fans broke up a training session yesterday and beat up several players. Over 150 AEK Athens supporters invaded the club’s training ground in Thrakomakedones, on the capital’s northwestern outskirts, assaulted players and journalists and smashed up six footballers’ cars. The attack followed Tuesday’s collapse of a bid by a former star AEK player – Atletico de Madrid striker Demis Nikolaidis – to buy the heavily overdebted club, after players refused to accept massive pay cuts. Defender Michalis Kassapis blamed Nikolaidis, telling journalists to «call up Demis to explain all this.» The Union of Professional Soccer Players (PSAP) wrote to Public Order Minister Giorgos Voulgarakis urging police protection for AEK players. «The rejection by AEK players of the demand that they accept pay cuts has caused irrational reactions among some fans, which could lead to extreme acts against the players,» PSAP said, adding that the footballers’ lives might be in danger.

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