NEWS

First penalties for soccer riot

Two soccer fans were handed suspended jail sentences yesterday for their part in the riot before the first-division match between Panionios and Olympiakos on Sunday, while the two clubs are due to face sports judges today to answer extensive charges over their role in the violence. The two Olympiakos fans were the only people arrested after trouble broke out at the Nea Smyrni stadium in Athens, leading to one supporter suffering severe head injuries, 14 policemen being hurt, the game being postponed and the ground suffering extensive damage. The pair were given five-month suspended jail sentences for their part in the incidents and were also ordered to present themselves at their local police station every time Olympiakos plays a match. According to the indictment, the trouble began when some 200 Olympiakos fans without tickets forced their way into the ground and tried to break into the VIP area. Deputy Sports Minister Giorgos Orfanos seems to be expecting further arrests. «All the video footage is being studied. We had the foresight to stipulate in the law that videotape was submissible as evidence. No one can get away with it anymore,» he said. He added, however, that the main blame lay with the soccer clubs. «[Club] officials bear the main responsibility. The provocation, the behavior and the type of guidance they give lead to such situations. But anyone behaving like this will end up at home,» he said. Appearing before a three-member panel of sports judges today, the two clubs could face severe punishment. Possible penalties include removing the game from the fixture list so neither team can gain any points, a deduction of a further three points and being forced to play between five and 10 games behind closed doors.