Greek soccer fined heavily

European soccer’s ruling body slapped Greek soccer with two heavy fines yesterday, penalizing AEK 150,000 Swiss francs (96,000 euros) for crowd trouble at a recent Champions League match and the nation’s football federation 100,000 francs (64,000 euros) for missile-throwing and breaches of regulations at a Euro 2004 qualifier. The UEFA Control and Disciplinary body sanctioned AEK for crowd disturbances, including the throwing of missiles and fireworks along with violation of security regulations during its 0-1 loss to PSV Eindhoven on October 21. The Greek Football Federation (EPO) was fined for the throwing of missiles and fireworks and the violation of competition regulations during Greece’s landmark 1-0 qualifying victory over Northern Ireland on October 11. It was Greece’s first qualification to a European Championships in 24 years. Thessaloniki club PAOK was handed a far lighter fine of 3,000 Swiss francs (1,900 euros) for flare-tossing in a UEFA Cup game against Lyn on October 16. UEFA also imposed several other smaller fines, including on the Russian, Italian and Bosnia-Herzegovina soccer federations. Last week, UEFA had delivered a strict letter of warning to EPO, warning that rowdy behavior by fans this season, particularly in Athens, could lead to hefty fines. The letter, addressed to EPO chief Vassilis Gagatsis, warned that in European club-level competition Greek teams could be barred from using their home grounds, or forced to play before empty stands. Top-ranked sporting officials, including Deputy Culture Minister Giorgos Lianis, in charge of the country’s sports portfolio, reacted by holding an emergency meeting and discussing the need for strict measures to eradicate violence in sports. With one of the Greek league’s traditionally big clashes now just over a week away, when front runner Olympiakos hosts second-placed Panathinaikos, talks on security measures have already begun. EPAE, the association of professional Greek soccer clubs, is expected to decide tomorrow whether the visiting side, Panathinaikos, will be entitled to tickets for fans. A Panathinaikos official, Yiannis Zavradinos, said yesterday that his club is pushing for a 20 percent share of match tickets, while Greek police told league officials they could handle the task of controlling rival fans in the stands. (AP, Kathimerini)