SPORTS

Security needs to be updated

Greek police are still using outdated methods for security during soccer games, making it difficult to deal with the violence that has become a hallmark of the Greek league, a British official said yesterday. Authorities here are battling frequent violence at matches despite recent efforts to crack down on hooligans and make clubs more accountable for crowd trouble. Chief Supt. Barry Norman, head of police in London’s borough of Islington, where Arsenal plays, said Greek police should work more closely with clubs and improve intelligence gathering to isolate violent soccer fans. He also urged the Greek police to forge partnerships with clubs. «Your style of policing here, your grounds, your infrastructure, reminded me of how things used to be in England when I was a young police officer back in the 1970s,» said Norman, who watched Arsenal play Panathinaikos in Athens in the Champions League last October. Norman spoke at a one-day conference on soccer violence organized by the British Embassy and attended by senior Greek police and soccer officials. «There is a very small group of young men who are intent on tribalism, violence and causing destruction at football matches. At Arsenal that group now amounts to only about 30 people,» Norman said. «We have pursued them, we have been relentless… we go after them for the way they drive their cars, the drugs they use, and the life they lead away from football. And by dedicating full-time officers we can substantially reduce the number of young men that want to do that.» Greece’s victory last year in the European Championships and major stadium improvements for the Olympics have failed to stop violent behavior this season. Earlier this month, a sporting tribunal punished first division clubs Olympiakos and Panionios for violence at a January 9 game that never got under way and which left 15 people injured. Both clubs are appealing the ruling, under which they had three points deducted and were ordered to play their next four home games behind closed doors. The decision on the appeal is expected today. Other policing improvements suggested by Norman and other British experts include creating security control rooms at stadiums, holding clubs more responsible for match security, and police vetting of season ticket schemes. The British police regularly advise Greece on counterterrorism and were part of a seven-nation advisory group for the Olympics.