Greeks blast ‘mafia’ violence, threaten Euro axe
The Greek government warned on Thursday that violence plaguing soccer in the country would not be tolerated even if it means banning teams from European play.
Newly-appointed Deputy Minister of Sports Giorgos Vassiliadis said after a meeting with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras "no organized criminal gangs can be tolerated from society and the Greek government."
Vassiliadis, who was appointed to the post last week after a government cabinet reshuffle, met with Tsipras in the wake of this week's arson attack against a top referee.
The fire at the home of Giorgos Bikas in northern Greece led to the postponement of all professional matches until further notice by the Greek soccer federation.
Vassiliadis said the Anti-Terrorist Service will investigate the "mafia-style attack" and that the federation will decide when the matches will resume after a full inspection of safety regulations.
The deputy minister also said that he would meet with journalist unions to find ways to halt provocations in the media that may lead to violent acts by supporters.
"The Greek government will propose to the federation the tightening of the framework of penalties in order to intensify the battle and to bring regularity into soccer,” Vassiliadis said.
He added that if these measures fail, "then let it be understood that the Greek government has the will and the way to enforce the departure of the teams from European leagues, until things come back to normality."
"Sports is not a war and there is no way we will accept mafia gangs to operate. Enough is enough," Vassiliadis said.