SPORTS

Scots dread crowd woes

For various reasons, including the country’s long-running campaign to bring back the Parthenon Marbles or the summertime havoc frequently caused by drunk and disorderly British tourists on the Greek islands, Greek-British bilateral ties have felt some strain recently. Therefore, British press reports raising security concerns over next Wednesday night’s Champions League match in Athens between Panathinaikos and Glasgow Rangers should not come as a surprise as the latest addition to the Greek-British saga. The two teams are to meet in a Group E game at the Athens club’s Leoforos Alexandras Stadium. A club representative of the visiting Scottish club, quoted in a story published this week by The Times, expressed concern over security come next Wednesday night. In the article, the Rangers representative advises Rangers fans intending to travel to Greece for the game to avoid early arrival at Panathinaikos’s home ground. «It’s best that they [Rangers supporters] remain in the city center as the bars around the stadium will be full of Panathinaikos fans, most of whom will be looking for trouble,» the Rangers representative was quoted as telling The Times. «I expect us to have flares again, which, it seems, are a part of Greek culture. The police have always had a problem with the issue, despite the considerable concern shown by UEFA.» The UK press is also shedding light on recent domestic trouble between Olympiakos and Panathinaikos fans whose paths crossed at Athens International Airport last week. The Panathinaikos squad had just returned from its 5-0 drubbing by Manchester United at Old Trafford in the Champions League’s opening round as the Olympiakos squad was set to depart for Spain to launch its campaign in the competition against Real Sociedad. The Spaniards won the Group D game 1-0. Reports covering last weekend’s trouble between AEK and Panathinaikos fans in a domestic league clash have also made news in the UK. Light fines were imposed on both clubs yesterday by a sports tribunal. Panathinaikos was handed a 5,000-euro fine, and will play one home game to empty stands. AEK was fined 10,000 euros. Besides Greek soccer’s more recent hooligan-related woes, the British press has also dug into the past. Some reports noted Rangers’ last visit to Greece, for a game against AEK, which did not end without incident. A Scottish fan’s hair was scorched by a flare tossed in her direction. Rangers, which will travel to Athens having defeated Stuttgart 2-1 at home in its opening Group E match, shares the group’s top spot with Manchester United. Panathinaikos, looking to rebound from last Wednesday’s heavy defeat at Old Trafford, will face Rangers without Polish international striker Emmanuel Olisadebe, who will be out of action until the end of the year following knee surgery.