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Athens derby called off due to violence

ANALYST
News
22 Nov 2015, 18:46 IST
Scenes of violence erupt at Panathinaikos’ Apostolos Nikolaides stadium

Football is supposed to be a game of love and peace, more so in the light of the horrific Paris attacks, but none of that was observed during the Athens Derby, contested between Panathinaikos and Olympiakos at the former’s home stadium, where the opposition players were greeted with flares by the home fans – who also clashed with the police before the commencement of the game, the Olympian reported.

The referee, Andreas Pappas, chose to call off the match after initially waiting for half an hour, due to the hostile atmosphere in the stadium. Panathinaikos, however, seemed to question the referees decision, but also condemed the actions of their fans.

Club chairman Yiannis Alafouzos issued a statement after the incident, stating that an emergency board meeting would be called on Sunday during which he would submit his resignation.

"I intend to submit my resignation. I will propose to the board to consider whether Panathinaikos should continue to participate in the league," Alafouzos, who is a media baron in his country, said.

Panathinaikos also issued a statement pinning the incident on "the individual action of 2-3 fools", who threw the flares on the pitch as well as the referee whose decision to abort the game was labelled as an "entirely mistaken and irresponsible decision" by the club.

Panathinaikos will most likely forfeit the match and could also face punishments ranging from fines, to reduction in points, to games behind closed doors, depending on what the referees report says.

The storm originally brewed outside the stadium, where fans tried to enter the stadium without tickets and even threw rocks at the police when they tried to intervene. The clash with the police spilled onto the pitch, with fans even targeting journalists, before the ground was evacuated.

The aftermath of the clash was like a hurricane, with objects from plastic chairs to pipes, strewn across the pitch. Olympiakos forward Alfred Finnbogason was even a victim of a flare, which hit him on the leg while he was filming the events which were unfolding on his cellphone.

The Iceland international suffered mild burns, but was shielded from further injury as he was still in his tracksuit. The team also announced that their defender Luka Milivojevic was also injured in the scuffle.

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Olympiakos left the stadium only two hours later due to police cordoning off the area until it was entirely safe. No Olympiakos fans were present, keeping with the Greek league’s policy of forbidding visiting fans from attending games due to the violence hit league.

"Over 50 persons were detained inside and outside the stadium...so far, 16 have been charged" with various offenses, police announced, adding that 3 policemen had been hurt in the line of duty. Olympiakos leads the league with 10 wins in as many games, with Panathinaikos trailing eight point behind.

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