Olympiakos cry foul as riot hearing is delayed

Olympiakos have hit out at suggestions they were to blame for Sunday’s riots that led to the postponement of their match at Panionios. Fourteen policemen were detained in hospital and one fan had head surgery after fighting inside and outside the ground. The two first-division clubs were summoned to a Sports Court hearing yesterday facing the prospect of large fines, points being docked and playing matches behind closed doors. The meeting, due to start at 10 a.m. local time, was delayed until the afternoon when a call came in saying there was a bomb at the court. The building was evacuated and police sniffer dogs were called in but it proved to be a hoax. (Hearings resumed in the afternoon and were expected to drag on late into the night.) An Olympiakos statement before the delay accused unnamed plotters of trying to undermine and destroy the club. «This is the first time in the history of the club that we are faced with such an undermining effort, since we are the pioneers in all sectors and we are constantly trying to improve,» said an official Olympiakos statement. «The latest developments demonstrate that an organized plan to eradicate Olympiakos exists.» The statement called on the club’s followers to show restraint, but the official fan club «Gate 7» called on the supporters to act against the charges, even suggesting a blockade of the port of Piraeus. «We are witnessing a scheme to eradicate Olympiakos. They are preparing extermination decisions only for Olympiakos,» said the fan club’s statement. «We are calling on our 15,000 members throughout Greece, as well as all Olympiakos fans, to prepare for unprecedented mobilizations. We will commence by blocking off the port of Piraeus and we will continue strongly.» The minister for sport, Giorgos Orfanos, speaking on Athens City radio, stressed that the New Democracy government was determined to take a stand against soccer violence. «I believe that those proven to have caused the unpleasant events will be dealt with harshly,» he said. A judicial inquiry is under way to root out the troublemakers with the chief prosecutor, Dimitris Papangelopoulos, ordering the police to examine video footage of the clashes. The two men arrested during Sunday’s violence were given five-month suspended sentences and ordered to report to their local police station before and after each match. (Reuters)