Soccer fans face travel ban

Soccer fans should not be allowed to travel to away matches, Public Order Minister Vyron Polydoras said yesterday after clashes between Panathinaikos and AEK supporters at the Olympic Stadium led to 24 people being injured. The fights between hundreds of fans of the rival teams on Monday resulted in five people being arrested and caused the match to be delayed for 20 minutes. «The issue of fan clubs and the systematic mass movement [of supporters] is the main matter of concern,» said Polydoras. «Systematic, mass movement, almost like mobile army units, has to be banned. It makes no sense. It is provocative and it uses up too much police effort.» Monday’s clashes were the latest incidence of violence this season which has seen the launch of the new Super League. The repackaged top division of Greek soccer is aiming to make the sport safer for fans but the tougher measures that were heralded before the start of the season have failed to make an impact. Chief of Police Anastassios Dimoschakis met with the top executives of the Super League yesterday to officially request that clubs ban fans from traveling to away games. The two sides also discussed other measures to stop hooliganism, such as appointing a liaison officer to act as a middleman between fans and police. The setting up of organizations in Athens and Thessaloniki dedicated to stopping organized sports violence was also proposed. Petros Kokkalis, the president of the Super League and vice president of Olympiakos soccer club, said the sport’s governing body would consider the ideas and present a set of anti-violence measures after Christmas. «In Greece, we do not have as big a problem [with hooliganism] as they had in England,» said Kokkalis. «People were killed in England. Fortunately, nobody has been killed in Greece but we have a widespread climate of violence that has to be combated.» A prosecutor yesterday charged three fans, including a young woman, with blasphemy, swearing and threatening behavior in connection with the clashes at the Olympic Stadium.