Sports authority bans tickets for visiting fans

Responding to widespread failure to take effective measures against fan violence in Greek sports – particularly soccer, where hooliganism has run rampant – the country’s top sporting official has announced a ticket ban for visiting clubs and their organized fan clubs. The measure, announced Monday, comes into effect this weekend for all first-division games, which, incidentally, include an encounter by frontrunner Olympiakos and third-placed PAOK at six points behind, two of the Greek league’s most acrimonious rivals. As a result, there will be no PAOK fans at the Thessaloniki club’s bid to draw closer to the league leader and defending champion at the capital’s Rizoupolis Stadium this Sunday evening. Until now, away clubs have been entitled to a small percentage of total stadium seats that were then provided to organized fan clubs whose transportation to away games have required police protection for possible attacks from awaiting home-team supporters. Deputy Culture Minister Giorgos Lianis, in charge of the country’s sports portfolio, had recently told Parliament that the measure was imminent. Lianis said the ticket ban for away teams and their organized fan clubs was deemed necessary after the Greek police and the Standing Committee for the Confrontation of Violence (DEAV), both declared that unwaning violence posed an acute threat to public order. EPAE, the association of professional Greek soccer clubs, said it objected to the measure’s implementation. In recent weeks, Greek clubs have escaped expected hefty penalties despite extreme outbursts by fans. Despite talk of a points-reduction penalty after its fans attacked journalists and smashed TV cameras, the Aris club was recently fined a mere three games before empty home stands.

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