21 January, 2008

It’s a Greek Tragedy!

Excuse the inappropriate exclamation mark as this isn’t a topic to make light of, but the pun was simply to good an opportunity to miss. Anyways, in the arson-first-ask-questions-later world of Greek league football, bloodshed has once again tarnished the game, as yesterday two Iraklis fans were stabbed during clashes between supporters before the Super League game against local rivals Paok.

Police said that more than 150 fans from the two Thessaloniki clubs were involved in the violence that saw fans using rocks and bottles as improvised weapons against at each other, before joining forces and directing their passion towards the Greek Filth. Initially started when Paok fans without tickets for the game tried to storm the Kaftanzoglio Stadium gates, many parked cars were damaged before the police fired tear gas to disperse the crowds. As the smoke cleared two men were found stabbed, one in the arm and one in the leg, but thankfully neither of their wounds were life-threatening.

This outbeak of violence comes just four days after an Olympiakos fan was stabbed to death by members of fierce Athens rivals Panathinaikos’ firm following a Greek Cup match.

Often called the ‘British Disease,’ hooliganism is as much of a problem in Greece as it is over here, especially with Athens containing more football clubs per square mile than any other city in Europe. Just last year every single sports stadium in the country was shut down for a fortnight in April after a fan was killed during a pre-arranged hooligan fight in Athens involving more than 500 fanatics. Furthermore, violence has spread onto pitches in recent memory, with Messiniakos players and coaching staff fighting with their own supporters the day after this ban was lifted. On the same day in the Greek Third Division, a game between Panetolikos and Ilioupoli was even stopped for thirty minutes when players and fans clashed on the pitch following a disallowed goal.