Greek League says suspension of matches a grave danger to clubs

Lloyd Doyle
March 14, 2018

Greece had indefinitely suspended matches after the owner of the club PAOK Salonika, Ivan Savvides, was filmed wearing a gun holster as he strode onto the pitch to protest about a disallowed goal against AEK Athens on Sunday.

Savvidis was accompanied onto the pitch by bodyguards who wore a holster containing what appeared to be a revolver, though he did not remove it during the ensuing fracas. Savvidis made no visible move to use his weapon, for which he has a license.

A public prosecutor ordered a judicial investigation into the incident.

Ivan Savvidis, president of PAOK, said in a statement posted on the Thessaloniki club's website on Tuesday that he had had meant no harm by his actions. I am deeply sorry for what happened. "I clearly had no right to enter the field of play in this fashion", said Savvidis.

"I'd like to apologize to the fans of PAOK, to all Greek fans and to the global football community", he added.

Greek football has been plagued by claims of match-fixing, referee intimidation, pitch invasions and violence on and off the pitch, and authorities have repeatedly promised to reform the game.

"All that could lead to uncontrollable situations".

"Believe me, I had no intention of interference with the opposing team or the referees". My only aim was to protect tens of thousands of PAOK fans from provocation, riots and human casualties. And, obviously did not threaten anybody.

"Unfortunately, both me and my family, as well as my colleagues, have been hostages of the totally ill soccer establishment. I would like to apologise once again".

"Despite attacks at all levels, I will continue to fight for fair soccer and honorable refereeing in all matches, so that games are won on the pitch and not in courtrooms", he said.

Savvidis was on the run for 24 hours after an arrest warrant was issued following Sunday's incident.

Savvidis' behaviour also provoked PAOK's suspension on Tuesday from the 230-member group of Europe's most influential clubs.

"In light of this, and in accordance with the ECA Statutes, the ECA Executive Board unanimously chose to suspend, with immediate effect, PAOK FC as member of the European Club Association", the European body explained in a statement on its website.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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