Bad weekend for beautiful game

After a turbulent weekend in Greek soccer that witnessed rioting in two Macedonian cities and a bribery case which led to a club president being detained in custody, yesterday saw the government calling for a travel ban on Panathinaikos and Olympiakos fans and Xanthi’s manager getting the ax. The country’s general secretary for sports, Panos Bitsaxis, sent letters to police authorities yesterday recommending that Panathinaikos and Olympiakos fans not be allowed to purchase tickets for the next away matches, scheduled for October. Panathinaikos duly responded, saying it will heed the advice of the government and not provide fans with tickets for the away match against Ergotelis on Crete following the riots in Kavala on Saturday, which resulted in the torching of a police car. Olympiakos has also been asked not to obtain any tickets for the next away match, in mid-October at Xanthi, following the serious disturbances at Serres on Sunday. Bitsaxis’s letter to the police spoke of unknown people hurling stones at the Olympiakos fans’ coaches on the way back, too, with the fans getting off the buses and attacking passing vehicles. Another soccer issue keeping Greek police busy was an alleged attempt by a person connected to second-division team Levadiakos to bribe Trikala goalkeeper Christos Pouris. Trikala police confirmed that the owner of Levadiakos, Yiannis Kombotis, spent Sunday night in custody and was questioned yesterday about his role in the affair. Kombotis was released without charge but local judicial authorities stressed that the investigation was ongoing as the person to have contacted the goalkeeper remains at large. Reports suggest he is a journalist. Also released yesterday was Xanthi manager Nikos Kehagias, who lost his job with the Thrace side after its 1-0 loss to Ergotelis on Saturday on Crete. Xanthi announced last night that the new manager of the club is Giorgos Paraschos. This will be the experienced coach’s second stint at Xanthi, after managing the club between September 2008 and March 2009. Meanwhile champion and cup-winner Panathinaikos announced a new record in season tickets sold. The 30,091 figure constitutes a national record and is the definitive number, as no more season tickets will go on sale for the current season.