Rampant fans force match to be called off

The worst outbreak of soccer violence so far this season led to the postponement of yesterday’s First Division match between Panionios and Olympiakos. The trouble at the stadium in Nea Smyrni started when a number of Olympiakos fans tried to enter Gate 7, next to the VIP stands. Police put the number at «over 600.» The fans did not carry any team scarves or any other insignia identifying them as Olympiakos supporters. The crowd started to attack the Panionios fans there and trouble spilled over onto the turf, where the teams had not yet shown up for the pre-match warmup. There were clashes among fans and between fans and riot police. Stadium seats were ripped up and used as weapons. Ten policemen and an unknown number of fans were injured. The two teams and the referee waited for things to calm down, but at 8 p.m., one hour after the scheduled start time, it was announced the match was being postponed. Earlier, more than 2,000 Olympiakos fans had gathered on Syngrou Avenue and marched to the stadium. Of these, only 323 had tickets to the match. Violence also broke out outside the Olympic Stadium, involving fans of defending champion Panathinaikos and AEK, which uses the stadium as its home field. Police said a fan and a passer-by were injured and two motorcycles were burnt when Panathinaikos supporters came under a hail of firebombs. At least two fans were arrested, according to late reports.

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