The Soccer Shame of Greece

first_imgATHENS – Following what was described as the shameful spectacle of brawls between members of Greece’s national soccer team, flares being fired and fish dumped on a bench in a semi-final match for the country’s soccer title, the government said it would move to curb unruliness in the sport.Greek soccer is often tainted by rowdiness, charges that games are fixed and with club owners committing wrongdoing, but the game in which PAOK beat powerhouse Olympiakos, 1-0, has set off new vows to bring the game under control after seven people were arrested at the event in Thessaloninki.“What happened at the PAOK-Olympiakos game last night shames Greek soccer,” said Deputy Culture Minister Yiannis Andrianos, who is responsible for sporting issues.“Immediately after Easter, I will convene a meeting with club chairmen and the relevant officials so they are made to live up to their responsibilities,” he added. “We all have to sit at a table and not get up until we agree on a common plan of action.”Andrianos also said he expected that the police and the judiciary would investigate what happened.He called the match a “disgrace to Greek football,” noting that players involved in the brawls included members of Greece’s national team.Hundreds of flares, which are allegedly banned in stadiums but almost always are used by fans, created so much smoke the game had to be delayed 75 minutes. A fan who dumped a bag of fish on Olympiakos’ bench was arrested.The Pireaus team’s nickname refers to fish. Referees made the PAOK players sit on Olympiakos’ bench as the teams switched sides.The game was stopped frequently as the players – nine of whom are teammates on the national team heading to the World Cup in Brazil in June – brawled with each other as the event got out of hand but was allowed to continue anyway.Dozens of PAOK fans ran onto the pitch at the end of the game to attack members of the Olympiakos team, whose bench was set on fire by a flare.“I have never seen anything like it in my life,” said Olympiakos coach Michel. “It was the first time that I preferred to lose a game. If we had scored, even worse things could have happened,” added the Spaniard.A 36-year-old man was arrested for dumping fish on the visitors’ bench, while five others were taken into custody for fighting with police outside the stadium.PAOK plays Panathinaikos in the April 26 final. The Greek Football Association said the final would be held as planned at the Olympic Stadium in Athens, denying reports of a possible move to avoid more crowd trouble.(Material from the Associated Press was used in this report)TweetPinShare0 Shareslast_img