Chaos in title clash
Following the ridiculous scenes between PAOK and Olympiacos at the Toumba Stadium, AGONAsport’s PAOK contributor, Athan Stylos, takes a look at what occurred Sunday and the aftermath effects for the club.
It was supposed to be one of PAOK’s biggest games in the club’s history, PAOK had the chance to all but end Olympiacos titles hopes and continue their red-hot form, but instead while the players were entering onto the pitch, a PAOK fan hit Olympiacos manager Oscar Garcia with a register paper roll which was thrown down from the VIP section of the stadium. Olympiacos officials claim that this resulted in Garcia vomiting and suffering from dizziness. Images have also come out in the last 24 hours where it has been seen that Garcia had been wearing a neck brace. As soon as the incident occurred, Olympiacos officials ordered their players back into the changing rooms and refused to play the match.
A win for PAOK on Sunday would have meant that they would have all but ended their rivals hopes of winning the league for an eighth consecutive season and it would have guaranteed us to see a new winner in the league. The events that occurred on Sunday, before a ball was even kicked, means that it is likely that PAOK will be deducted -3 points and the match will result in a 0-3 victory for Olympiacos, which will then bring them back into contention of winning the league. The Greek Super League rules state that if supporters are responsible for harming or injuring the opposition on the pitch, then the club who is responsible will be punished with a 3-0 defeat and will lose 3 points. If PAOK are found guilty, it will also result in them having to play 2 or 3 games behind closed doors as well, which would include the upcoming derby against AEK.
You would have thought for a club that has not tasted success in the league for 33 years, that the fans would be desperate to not do anything that could possibly harm their chances of winning this season’s league title, but instead it was ruined again by a minority of supporters who think that they are bigger than the club itself. It is now likely they have ruined the club’s chances of winning this year’s league title as we still await confirmation of what the outcome and penalties of Sunday’s incident will be.
PAOK officials remained adamant that this was a deliberate act by Garcia and by Olympiacos officials to not let their players play. PAOK officials and players instantly put the blame on Olympiacos for planning their actions in the lead up to the game, so the game could not go ahead. PAOK need to take responsibility for what occurred on Sunday as it could have been prevented if they had already banned the supporter who threw the register paper roll. The suspect had previously been charged for three different incidents. How was the fan even allowed access into the VIP section of the Toumba Stadium? Surely, a simple background check may have prevented the farcical scenes from occurring. PAOK need to take action and ban these people from attending games which may have possibly ruined the club’s chances of securing their first league title since 1985.
PAOK forward, Djalma Campos, took to Instagram to display his disappointment and frustration claiming that Olympiacos had no desire to play the match. He directed his post at Olympiacos which said “Shame, if there is no desire to play in this amazing atmosphere, you better leave football.” Although there is anger throughout the entire club at PAOK after the incidents that occurred on Sunday, the playing group still remained positive with star player Dimitris Pelkas posting a team picture to Instagram and writing “This is our family that nobody can destroy. We take what we deserve I promise”.
Greeks are one of the most passionate fans for their club around the world, but too often this passion turns into violence, which is the ultimate reason why Greek football can’t continue to move forward in a positive direction. Greek football needs to be able to find a way to be able to punish these supporters who are responsible for destroying the game in the country by going out and looking for trouble and causing violence instead of punishing the whole club from the players, to the club’s board, and to the majority of the club’s supporter base who do behave sensibly. If PAOK are punished, which we expect they will be, it will be devastating for the majority of PAOK supporters who have waited patiently for a long time to be able to see their team finally in contention to win the league title. The PAOK playing group will also be shattered with the events that took place on Sunday night as they would have believed that they could have ended Olympiacos’ horror season and go one step closer to lifting the title.
Greek football took a massive hit for all the wrong reasons because of the events on Sunday. The match was a complete sell out and it was supposed to be the match of the season, but again it was overshadowed by violence and possible point deductions. The problem within Greek football at the moment is those who currently have the power are not accountable for their actions and no one is willing to take the blame for incidents that occur. Everyone in Greek football is too busy looking for excuses and putting the blame of others instead of taking responsibility for their own errors in management.