Fearing violence, Greece keeps fans away from cup final

Fearing violence, Greece keeps fans away from cup final

The Greek Cup final will be held without regular supporters after the country’s soccer federation failed to find a venue abroad to avoid fan violence.

Next month’s final between AEK Athens and PAOK will be held in the central city of Volos with a reduced number spectators attending by invitation only, Greek Football Federation deputy director Stergios Antoniou said Tuesday.

“This issue has troubled us a lot … The cup final should be a celebration of football,” Antoniou told the private Metropolis radio.

The federation announced earlier this month that the May 20 match would be held in Cyprus, but the island’s police shot down the plan days later, arguing that they could not provide security for the game.

Greek federation officials also revealed that they had approached associations in England, Germany, and Australia to seek venues for the final.

Professional Greek soccer has been plagued by fan violence for decades – including at last year’s cup final – and in recent years referees from other European countries have been used to officiate at major league games. [AP]

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