MANOS STARAMOPOULOS / AIPS in ATHENS: Panathinaikos have urged their fans to protest against the “totally wrong and inexplicable decision” to call off their Athens derby against Olympiakos for crowd trouble.
Kick-off was delayed, and then cancelled, as Panathinaikos fans threw flares onto the pitch. Supporters invaded the pitch and fought with riot police inside the stadium and on the streets.
Olympiakos did not have any fans at the ground, as away supporters are banned in the Greek top flight.
Referee Andreas Pappas’s match report stated: “The chief of police reported that at Gate 12 a policeman had been injured by fans. I went to the pitch to access the situation and sensed the tension among home fans.
“When I returned to the changing room, I was told that fans had broken the lock of the door leading to the pitch from the Entry 13 so that the door was unlocked. Also he told us that it was possible to hold back the fans but not stopping them throwing fireworks.”
The fireworks were being aimed at Olympiakos players and one hit the Icelandic international Finnbogason. Olympiakos’ players were immediately ordered back to the changing rooms.
Pappas added: “Considering all the above, the injury to the player from the visiting team and the tense atmosphere on and off the pitch, I judged that it is not possible for the match to continue as there was a serious threat to the physical integrity of those involved.”
The referee’s decision to abandon the game sparked more chaos as furious Panathinaikos fans invaded the pitch and fought with police. Stones, poles and irons bars were thrown at the police who were trying to calm the situation.
Panathinaikos issued a statement blaming a handful of mindless hooligans but also the referee whose “entirely mistaken and irresponsible decision” to call off the game led to the violence.
It said: “The totally wrong and inexplicable decision of Andreas Pappas to postpone the start of the game led the board to the unanimous decision to send a call to the club’s fans to make a peaceful rally on Wednesday at 4pm outside our historic stadium with the motto: ‘We cannot take any more.’
“Our wish is to protest the situation in Greek football and for the failure of the state to address the phenomena of lawlessness.”
# # #