Drugs and weapons

Smoke bombs, drugs, fireworks, flare guns, clubs, crowbars and Molotov cocktails were just some of the items found in dawn raids by police on supporters’ clubs affiliated to the Olympiakos and Panathinaikos teams last Friday, just a few hours after Michalis Filopoulos, 22, was killed in clashes between rival groups. The fight took place near a stadium in Paeania, outside Athens, where the Olympiakos and Panathinaikos women’s volleyball teams were playing a match. The findings only confirmed what was already common knowledge. Many supporters’ clubs are breeding grounds for violence, arsenals where raids on other teams’ fans are planned down to the last detail. The fact that incidents have recently been restricted to areas outside sporting venues had led many to believe that the violence had been defused. However, Thursday’s tragedy showed only too clearly that this was an illusion. According to police officials, the decrease in violence at stadiums has been due to the fact that, at most matches, no tickets are sold to supporters of the home team, so no groups of supporters are on the move. Secondly CCTV cameras are now trained on the stands and have led to arrests and convictions of those who provoke incidents. However, this does not mean that the problem has been dealt with; it has simply moved elsewhere. There have been several clashes between groups of supporters over the past two years, but these have been described as of minor significance, being small-scale incidents occurring in outlying areas. They usually consist of late-night attacks on the offices of supporters of rival teams, on cafes frequented by rival supporters and clashes between supporters encountering each other in various parts of Attica. At a meeting at the Public Order Ministry last week, it was decided to register the supporters clubs of all teams, to keep a watch on their activities and their leaders, maintain continual contact with them and even infiltrate their ranks to obtain specific information. However, there is still the fear of retaliation measures over last week’s killing that led to the imposition of the measures.

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