Inquiry ordered over incidents

Responding to several outbreaks of violence that marred a number of local soccer matches over the weekend – right after a two-week suspension of team sports because of a deadly hooligan clash – a public prosecutor yesterday launched an emergency investigation aimed at tracking down culprits and determining why no arrests were made. Despite the efforts of government and club officials to curb sports-related violence, the weekend was marred by violent incidents, involving players, fans and officials, in Greek soccer’s top-tier Super League, as well as in the lower second and third divisions. Scenes of bedlam erupted in a third-division game between Panaitolikos and Ilioupoli when fans and players fought on the pitch. In the second division, Messiniakos fans attacked their team’s coach after a 4-2 loss against Kallithea. Super League play was also marred by on-field violence between players. Olympiakos’s Brazilian star was sent off for striking a rival Larissa player. At the game’s end, the Piraeus team’s general director, Savvas Theodoridis, was struck by an object tossed from the stands as he exited the Larissa stadium. Panathinaikos striker Dimitris Papadopoulos was also shown the red card for hitting Apollon Kalamaria’s Alban Bushi, apparently in retaliation for being spat at. Besides the overall investigation into the lack of arrests, the public prosecutor, Anastassios Kanellopoulos, ordered an inquiry into the incident concerning the attack on Theodoridis, the Olympiakos official. Responding to these unsettling developments – not long after a fan was killed in rioting between organized Olympiakos and Panathinaikos fans on the sidelines of a women’s volleyball match between the two clubs – Public Order Minister Vyron Polydoras said has ordered an inquiry into whether police forces could have responded more effectively to the weekend’s various outbreaks of violence. «I urge for calm as well as the non-proliferation of things,» said Polydoras. «We shouldn’t be overcome by panic,» the minister added. Deputy Culture Minister Giorgos Orfanos, the government’s top sports official, said he was saddened by the fact that certain fans «lost control once more and created unacceptable situations.»

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