PAOK president gets three-year ban for gun incident
Ivan Savvidis also fined €100k and club docked three points; Greece set to be banned by Fifa
PAOK Salonika president Ivan Savvidis has been banned from all soccer stadiums for three years and fined €100,000 after going on the pitch in the game against AEK Athens with a gun in his waistband. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images
PAOK Salonika president Ivan Savvidis was banned from all soccer stadiums for three years for storming on to the pitch with a gun during a Greek league match, the league said on Thursday as the country faced a possible international ban. PAOK were also docked three points, ending their title chances.
Savvidis, a Georgia-born businessman and former Russian state Duma deputy, charged on to the pitch with a gun in his belt when a goal for PAOK was disallowed in a match against fellow title contenders AEK Athens on March 11th.
The game was interrupted and the incident prompted an immediate suspension of the league by the Greek government as world soccer’s governing body Fifa considers action against Greece over repeated crowd trouble and violence in stadiums.
The Hellenic Football Federation said a Fifa monitoring group for Greek football would recommend the suspension of the country based on the current conditions.
“The monitoring group unanimously proposes the immediate suspension of the membership of the Hellenic Football Federation from Fifa,” the federation said in a statement after a briefing from the Fifa monitoring committee on Thursday.
Fifa is set to discuss the matter in two months at a council meeting but the federation plans to push through changes rapidly.
“The board of the Hellenic Football Federation expressed the unwavering will to proceed with changes in the entire structure and operation of Greek football on all levels,” it said.
The government lifted the ban on Tuesday with Superleague matches set to resume over the weekend.
Savvidis was also fined €100,000 and the club, fined an additional €63,000, must play three matches behind closed doors.
PAOK sports director Lubos Michel, a former international referee, was banned for 90 days and fined €15,000 after also entering the pitch and complaining to the referee.
The disciplinary committee awarded the game to AEK Athens and stripped two points from PAOK from next season’s championship.
PAOK said they would appeal.
“The sanction is harsh and was delivered under the pressure of a coordinated media storm against PAOK,” the club said in a statement. “We are proceeding with an appeal and await to be judged on real facts.”
Fifa has repeatedly warned Greece to clean up football or risk a possible international ban.
“The word Grexit is no more impossible. Greek football is going to an edge,” Herbert Huebel, head of Fifa’s monitoring committee for Greek football, said this month.