SPORTS

Sports Minister recommends suspension of soccer

sports-minister-recommends-suspension-of-soccer

The Hellenic Football Federation (EPO) on Thursday condemned crowd violence which caused the first leg of the Greek Cup semi-final between PAOK and Olympiakos to be abandoned after a pitch invasion. The violence, which erupted after a penalty was denied to PAOK in Wednesday evening's game, also prompted Greece's Deputy Minister for Sport Stavros Kontonis to recommend the suspension of all competitive soccer in the country.

Government and soccer authorities will convene later on Thursday to rule on the issue.

The Toumba stadium in Thessaloniki resembled a war zone after hundreds of angry fans stormed the pitch and fought running battles with riot police in the closing minutes. PAOK owner Ivan Savvidis then said he would withdraw his team from the cup.

"EPO condemns in the strongest possible way the extreme and unjustified, violent reactions which occurred before, during and after the cup match between PAOK and Olympiakos," it said.

EPO said it would examine the conduct of match officials and take appropriate action under the statutes.

In an apparent reference to the migrant and economic crises now convulsing Greece, the EPO statement said it would "not allow soccer to be involved in games and goals that go beyond the controversies on the pitch and be burdened with the problems of an entire society."

Local media said Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras was expected to make a final decision later on Thursday on the possible suspension of competitive soccer in Greece after listening to the recommendations of Kontonis, the EPO and the league organizations.

[Reuters]