Harsher penalties in soccer

Responding to growing pressure for harsher punishment of clubs whose fans are linked to violent acts, Vassilis Gagatsis, the chief official of Greece’s soccer federation, EPO, announced yesterday that revisions would be made to the sport’s regulations at the end of this season. However, he stopped short of endorsing a point-reduction penalty system proposed by the Deputy Culture Minister Giorgos Lianis, the State’s top-ranked sporting official, a day earlier. Lianis, on Tuesday, said he wants to make amendements to current regulations, which would introduce point reduction as a stricter penalty for hooliganism. The latest outcry for firmer action was sparked by last weekend’s turbulent all-Thessaloniki Greek Cup final between PAOK and Aris. Fans of the Aris club set fire to parts of PAOK’s Toumba Stadium as they watched their team lose 1-0. Lianis’s point-reduction proposal, which clashes with the sport’s current regulations, in which both EPO and EPAE, the association of professional Greek soccer clubs, have a say, is best seen as putting pressure on those two bodies to act. Gagatsis, the federation’s chief, in comments made on local radio station Superspor FM yesterday, said revisions to the sport’s disciplinary regulations would be discussed at EPO’s general meeting following the season’s end this weekend. The EPO head said he will propose dropping a current penalty that obliges clubs to play home games at neutral venues – with attendance allowed. Instead, Gagatsis said he will recommend forcing penalized sides to play home games in empty stadiums. But Gagatsis predicted EPAE would challenge the plan. Gagatsis said that changes would be made to the current yellow-card penalty system in which players miss a game should they accumulate three yellow cards. He added that surveillance cameras will be installed at all grounds, and that tickets would bear the names of holders.

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