Orchestrated violence

The stone-throwing attack by hooligans on the Panathinaikos team bus Monday could pass by unnoticed as an isolated act carried out by a group of mindless fanatics. Unfortunately, the abundance of similar incidents over recent months leaves no room for such innocent judgments. First it was the attack against the Fos newspaper, prompted by its criticism of Olympiakos President Socrates Kokkalis’s decisions. An organized group of fans invaded the newspaper offices and caused extended damage with the obvious aim of knocking some sense into the journalists and chief editors. A few months ago, a train carrying AEK fans on their way to Piraeus was attacked with gasoline bombs and stones. The unprovoked assault was carried out by a group of Olympiakos hooligans. Small children, old men and women were lucky to escape with slight injuries. The northern town of Xanthi also witnessed violent episodes and destruction by organized fans of Greece’s champions, Olympiakos. In Athens a few months ago, some relentless, hooded Olympiakos fans did not hesitate to hurl gasoline bombs at a public bus on Alexandras Avenue merely because it carried Panathinaikos supporters. The bus caught fire and we were lucky not to mourn any victims. And a few days ago, a group of Olympiakos fans caused extensive damage at Athens’s Eleftherios Venizelos airport, thereby expressing their enthusiasm for winning the soccer league. It seems that these were not isolated incidents but rather acts engineered by an organized group of fanatics. Olympiakos has not distanced itself from this group – the club and its owner released no statement condemning the acts – but rather, as shown by the background of Monday’s stone-thrower, it could be said that these acts are instigated and sponsored. Furthermore, considering the fact that Kokkalis’s system has reacted to occasional criticism toward similar «stone-throwing,» one gets the impression that an entire army of defenders has been set up with the purpose of safeguarding the interests of the big boss. These phenomena are at odds with our democracy. The authorities ought to take the necessary measures and implement the law. As for the business moguls who aspire to control the country, they should at least denounce these sideline «protection mechanisms» before we mourn any victims.