NEWS

Riot probe to focus on seat allocation

As a senior prosecutor launched an investigation yesterday into Sunday’s riot ahead of an Athens first-division soccer game, which left one man seriously injured and led to the match’s postponement, the government insisted that the incidents were just a blip in its campaign against spectator violence. The probe will be led by Athens prosecutor Spyros Mouzakitis, who is to look into how supporters of Olympiakos Piraeus were able to dodge controls aimed at preventing visiting fans from mingling with the home crowd, at the match in Panionios’s Nea Smyrni ground. Some 400 Olympiakos fans who had obtained tickets for a part of the stands that was full of Panionios supporters attacked the home crowd and invaded the pitch, clashing with police. One Panionios supporter suffered severe head injuries but was out of danger yesterday after a delicate operation. Fourteen policemen were also hurt. Two Olympiakos fans were arrested, and were charged yesterday with leading the pitch invasion. Judicial authorities are to study the lists of Panionios supporters to whom seats were individually allotted in an attempt to ascertain how tickets ended up in the hands of visiting fans. Under legislation introduced to combat rampant spectator violence, strict prison sentences can be imposed on officials or individuals found guilty of breaking the rules on segregating visiting spectators. Secretary-General for Sport Giorgos Orfanos described the riot yesterday as an «exception to the rule.» «The state is determined to show no mercy to those who believe they can play their own games,» he said, adding that video footage of the clashes had been provided to judicial authorities investigating the riots. «We will not negotiate what Greece gained in 2004, the image of a country that captured the Euro 2004 soccer championship and staged outstanding Olympic and Paralympic Games,» he said. Meanwhile, a group of motorcycle-borne youths attacked a Panathinaikos soccer fan club on Alexandras Avenue, central Athens, yesterday evening and damaged 10 cars parked outside.