SPORTS

Troubled final goes to court

Various offenders during this season’s recent trouble-marred Final Four competition for the Greek Cup in basketball yesterday appeared before a sports tribunal that is expected to release its verdicts on Friday. The Final Four series, held at the indoor basketball stadium in Larissa, north of Athens, degenerated into a miserable event after fans lit flares during the final and smoked themselves out. Flares were lit and tossed from parts of the stand occupied by fans of Olympiakos, the competition’s runner-up, toward fans of the eventual winner, Aris. Twelve minutes before the end, the game’s referees were forced to interrupt play for over two hours to evacuate fans from the smoke-filled stadium. The game, which Aris won 73-70, was completed before empty stands. Olympiakos was ahead before club fans began tossing flares, but the Piraeus team’s players lost their rhythm during the final’s extended interruption to allow Aris back into the game. During yesterday’s hearing, Olympiakos’s legal representative Yiannis Karaminas attempted to play down the final’s troubles by claiming that lighting «one or two flares» does not constitute trouble in the stands. On the day, match officials reported that numerous flares were lit and tossed by Olympiakos fans. The Olympiakos club also faces charges for abusive language from fans during the final that prompted the referees to disrupt play twice. Karaminas, the Olympiakos club’s lawyer, admitted that his clients voiced lewd remarks, but argued that the Larissa stadium was not equipped with a PA system to warn fans of possible legal measures. «There was no PA system, or any other means, to warn fans of a possible disruption of play,» Karaminas said. The Aris club has been charged with similar offenses. At playing level, Olympiakos guard Giorgos Diamantopoulos, charged with verbally abusing one of the final’s referees at the end of play, attributed his booking to what he claimed was a misunderstanding. Diamantopoulos denied casting foul language directly at the referee Nikos Karousis, who reported such an incident in his match report. Instead, the player said that he using abusive remarks to describe the referee to his fellow player Milan Tomic. If charged, Diamantopoulos could be sidelined for a game, or fined. For the Aris club, the final victory added an eighth Greek Cup triumph to the Thessaloniki club’s record, and 21st title overall, which includes three European titles and nine Greek league titles.