Murder, riots follow Greek soccer defeat

An Albanian man was stabbed to death and several more were injured during ugly after-dark brawls in Greece after Albania’s national soccer squad defeated the Greek side on Saturday during a World Cup qualifying match in Tirana. In Athens, the government and opposition parties issued strongly worded condemnations of the violence yesterday. «Such acts run against the sporting spirit… which we honored when the Olympics were held in Greece,» government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos said. Albanians represent the vast majority of the estimated 1 million immigrants living in Greece. The worst incident was in the village of Tsilivi on the Ionian Sea island of Zakynthos, where a 20-year-old Albanian immigrant was killed and another two suffered non-life-threatening stab wounds during an attack early yesterday by a Greek man who objected to their celebrating Albania’s 2-1 upset of the reigning European champions. Police arrested 22-year-old Greek-American Panayiotis Kladis for the attack. Four Albanians and one Greek were treated for knife wounds in Athens after the match, although no arrests were made, and in Thessaloniki an 18-year-old Albanian was held for allegedly injuring two Greeks with a broken bottle. In Omonia Square, the central Athens landmark where Greek soccer fans traditionally flock to celebrate national or club-level victories, roles were reversed on Saturday night when a few hundred Albanians gathered to jubilate. A crowd of Greeks soon assembled with ugly intentions, and riot police stepped in, using tear gas to disperse both groups. In other incidents, Albanian supporters damaged seven cars near the Peloponnese railway station in Athens, while two cars with Albanian number plates were wrecked by Greeks in Thessaloniki. In the Tirana encounter, Greece’s national soccer squad put on a poor performance in its first official match after unexpectedly winning the Euro 2004 championship in Portugal on July 4. Having let in two goals in the first 10 minutes of play, Greece scored at the end of the first half but was unable to equalize.

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