Greek soccer faces FIFA expulsion because of violenceMarch 14, 2018 4:01pm

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greece could be expelled from international soccer competitions because of widespread violence, a FIFA representative said Wednesday.

Herbert Huebel said a series of incidents, culminating with a gun-toting club owner running onto the field to protest a disallowed goal, are "unacceptable."

"Greek football is going to an edge," Huebel said, adding that a potential Greek suspension from international soccer "is not any more impossible."

Huebel met with government and league officials in Athens following Sunday's incident in Thessaloniki at a league match between PAOK Thessaloniki and AEK Athens.

The government has indefinitely suspended league play after PAOK owner Ivan Savvidis — a Russian with strong business interests in Greece — rushed onto the field, accompanied by bodyguards and with a holstered gun strapped to his waist, when the referee disallowed the goal.

Greek league organizers launched disciplinary procedures against Savvidis and PAOK on Wednesday, which could lead to the team being docked points or even relegated, and a maximum five-year ban for its owner.

"We all love football but it's unbearable that people are scared to go to a stadium," Huebel said. "How can you bring children there when there are guns on the pitch?

"The aim of the game is always to win, of course," he added. "But it can't be forced by arms, by threats or even by crime."

Following Wednesday's talks, Greek soccer federation president Evangelos Grammenos said league officials will draft a declaration against violence by March 23, after which the government will review its position on the league suspension.

"It was decided that professional soccer (officials) will commit in writing to a framework concerning violence inside and outside stadiums, and concerning stadium security," Grammenos said. "If the minister for sports finds these commitments satisfactory he will decide on whether to revoke his decision."

Huebel said he would make his report to FIFA in about 10 days.

"The report will be serious," the Austrian said. "We don't know what the decisions by FIFA will be. There's a wide range which finally ends up at the FIFA Council. ... The jurisdiction of UEFA and FIFA can be a very strict one."

The Greek government welcomed FIFA's involvement.

"We are ready to act with the vital and valuable contribution of FIFA, to put an end to actions that blacken the image of the sport and the country," government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos said.

A public prosecutor has ordered a judicial investigation, which will also look into why police allegedly ignored instructions by a prosecutor to arrest Savvidis on the spot.

Savvidis has apologized for his behavior.

Despite the league ban, more soccer violence was reported in Thessaloniki on Wednesday — this time at a local high school championship game.

Police said two people were taken to the hospital after clashes broke out between spectators armed with iron rods and wooden bats. Fourteen people were detained on suspicion of involvement.

Page 1 of 1

More Stories Like This

Weah debut with PSG and possibly US follows dad's electionTim Weah's famous father George was inaugurated as president of Liberia in January, the 18-year-old midfielder made his debut for Paris Saint-Germain on March 3 and he could make his first appearance for the U.S. national team next week
Jamaica's former sprinter Usain Bolt, third from right, takes part in a practice session of the Borussia Dortmund soccer squad in Dortmund, Germany, Friday, March 23, 2018.  Dortmund  head coach Peter Stoeger stands second right. (Guido Kirchner/dpa via AP)
Usain Bolt delights fans by scoring in Dortmund training
FILE - In this Wednesday, Nov. 19, 2014 file photo Olympiakos soccer club chairman Vangelis Marinakis appears in a court in Athens. Greek ship owner and soccer club owner Marinakis says drug-trafficking charges against him are part of a government-led "conspiracy" to silence dissent. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis, file)
Greek tycoon calls drug charges politically motivated
Switzerland has key players primed to peak at World CupSwitzerland can look forward to the World Cup with a mostly settled team at a prime age
Mexico has to solve 2 major questions before the World CupEighty-seven days before taking on Germany in their first match of Russia 2018, Mexico appears to have only two major lingering questions
FILE - In this April 12, 2017, file photo, Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Steven Wright delivers to the Baltimore Orioles in the first inning of a baseball game at Fenway Park in Boston. Wright has accepted a 15-game suspension under Major League Baseball's domestic violence policy following his arrest on Dec. 8. Wright publicly apologized to his wife, Shannon, after baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred announced the penalty Friday, March 23, 2018. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola, File)
Boston's Wright suspended under domestic violence policy

Related Searches

Related Searches