Police final protest irritates

Fearing damage to the country’s image abroad, Greece’s public order minister yesterday urged police to cancel a street protest planned for Wednesday, the day of the Champions League Final in Athens. «The demonstrations that are planned are a mistake,» Vyron Polydoras said yesterday. «They must not take place.» Police unions, which are forbidden from striking, are planning a uniformed protest this Wednesday, when Liverpool and AC Milan meet in Athens, at the Olympic Stadium, for club-level soccer’s most prestigious European title. Leaders of the planned protest, during which participants intend to hand out leaflets in English and Italian explaining their longstanding demands for higher pay and better working conditions, maintain that the strike action will not undermine the massive security operation for Wednesday’s final. Over 15,000 officers are expected to be deployed in Athens. Protesters, according to POASY, the federation of police officers, would not include officers on duty. A Public Order Ministry statement, released yesterday, noted, «There’s a risk that this great sporting event will be blackened and the country will be exposed to international criticism.» The statement added that there would be other, more appropriate times for the police to make their voices heard, while also reminding of the «obligation to be the best hosts possible.» The federation of police officers announced last week its plan to stage a strike on the day of the European final. Meanwhile, amid fervent black-market activity ahead of the final, a Thessaloniki mathematics tutor was arrested Saturday and charged with profiteering for allegedly selling Champions League final tickets at 25 times their face value. The individual, aged 27, was arrested after allegedly accepting 7,000 euros from undercover officers for two tickets worth 140 euros each. Reports said the seller had initially demanded 9,000 euros for the pair of tickets, but the price was bargained down in the lead-up to his arrest.