New minister pledges action

Greece’s new sports minister promised yesterday to crack down on violence at soccer games after hooligans interrupted a weekend first-division game. «Bad fans continue to be bad, but be certain that they will be severely dealt with,» said Giorgos Orfanos, the newly appointed deputy culture minister responsible for sports after the conservatives defeated Greece’s long-governing Socialists in March 7 general elections. He did not elaborate. A match was interrupted for 12 minutes on Sunday between Panathinaikos and crosstown Panionios, whose fans ran riot. Panathinaikos won the game 1-0 and the trouble erupted after the goal was scored. No arrests or injuries were reported. The win, combined with a 1-0 loss by Olympiakos to AEK, also on Sunday, sent Panathinaikos to the top of the 16-team first-division standings. Panionios apologized for the incidents and asked for the police’s help to deal with its violent fans. Fan violence has marred the image of Greek soccer for years but efforts to clean up the game have taken on added urgency ahead of the August 13-29 Olympic Games. Earlier this year, the government imposed ticketing restrictions to try and discourage fans from attending away matches. Orfanos said the new government will review the ban, widely considered to be ineffective. (AP)

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