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“Greek Government Implements Fan Ban Following Violent l Incident: A Closer Look”

“Greek Government Implements Fan Ban Following Violent l Incident: A Closer Look”

In the wake of a tumultuous volleyball match in Athens last week, the Greek government has issued a directive mandating football clubs in the top division to conduct all matches without fans for an extensive two-month period. The decision comes in response to the severe injury sustained by a police officer during violent clashes at the Olympiacos versus Panathinaikos volleyball match. Both clubs, local rivals in theĀ  arena, share ownership with their football counterparts.

Government spokesman Pavlos Marinakis, during a weekly briefing on Monday, announced that all Super League 1 matches will be played behind closed doors until February 12, 2024. Marinakis hinted that this measure might extend to European fixtures played at home if top league football teams fail to implement relevant security measures by the specified date. Such measures include the installation of cameras and electronic identification systems for fans at stadiums.

The catalyst for this decision was the violent incident during the l clash, where a 31-year-old police officer was critically injured by a flare. In Greece, clashes between football fans and clubs are not uncommon, both on and off the pitch, prompting the government’s ongoing efforts to reform the football landscape.

Over 400 individuals were briefly detained in the aftermath of the Thursday incident, which Greek police characterized as a “murderous attack” by hooligans on riot police. The injured officer remains in critical condition, and evidence collected led to the identification and subsequent arrest of an 18-year-old man. The individual, who confessed to participating in the attack and throwing the flare, is expected to testify before a public prosecutor later this week.

Government spokesman Marinakis emphasized the long-standing issue of criminal behavior disguised as fandom, expressing concern for the safety of athletes and genuine fans alike. He condemned what he referred to as the “murderous behavior of criminal gangs” and criticized the tolerance shown by a minority of fans.

This incident is part of a broader pattern of violence in Greek football, including the fatal stabbing of AEK Athens fan Michalis Katsouris last August and the death of 19-year-old fan Alkis Kampanos in clashes in Thessaloniki last year. In response, Greece has implemented stricter regulations on football clubs, imposed heavier penalties, and increased police oversight.

The recent boycott by Greek referees, driven by perceived dangerous working conditions, led to the cancellation of Super League games last weekend, underscoring the challenges faced by the football community in Greece. As the nation grapples with these issues, the government’s decision to ban fans for an extended period raises questions about the future of football in the country and the efficacy of proposed reforms.

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