It Feels Good to Have our Sundays Back…
AGONAsport’s Olympiacos contributor, Theo Bouras, talks about the downward spiral of Greek football and the events of the last two years that have scarred the game in Greece.
Greece are back in action as they face Switzerland in an international friendly on Friday, March 23rd. Watch it LIVE from AGONAsport.com!
That was the line we kept hearing from PAOK fans, AEK fans, Panathinaikos fans, and pretty much any group of the fans who were fed up with all the Olympiacos championships. “Greek football is at an all-time low, time to clean things up and get our Sundays back”.
To really understand when this issue began with Savvidis, you need to go back to March of 2016. It started when PAOK was hosting Olympiacos in the first leg of the Greek Cup Semi-Final. The Erythrolefki were down 1-0 early on, but came back and were leading 1-2 in the dying moments of the game. In the 86th minute, PAOK’s Robert Mak was fouled by goalkeeper Stefano Kapino. The Dikefaloi tou Vorra argued that a penalty should have been given and then all hell broke loose. Ivan Savvidis, team owner, announced that the team was not going to be participating in the return game at Karaiskakis Stadium; he claimed that officials were doing everything in their power to keep PAOK down.
There are only two issues with his thinking; first off, the referee that game (Andreas Pappas) didn’t award the Reds a clear penalty on a foul committed by Dimitris Chatziisaias on Kostas Fortounis in the 26th minute, and secondly, he should have interrupted the game when Olympiacos coach, Marco Silva, received a cup of water on his back from some fan in the crowd.
Since then, Savvidis has made it a point of taking full control of Greek football. Evangelos Grammenos, who Savvidis claimed was “his guy” was voted as President of the Greek Football Federation. PAOK loaned numerous players to other Superleague clubs; something they cried foul about when Olympiacos used to do the same.
The Greek Cup Final last year was an embarrassment to say the least. Fan violence was completely ignored by Grammenos and company, while the winning goal for PAOK was about a meter offside.
Olympiacos, luckily, had a hot start to the 2016-17 season or else they would have suffered the same fate they are going through this year. PAOK has benefited from numerous dubious decisions all season long. Whether it’s offside goals or highly questionable penalties, the Dikefalos tou Vorra have very little to be proud of this season.
Their punishment after the García debacle was diminished by some court (at 1AM on a Sunday morning!). They were somehow allowed to have fans against AEK, while Olympiacos had two home games without their supporters (including the derby against Panathinaikos for the first time in history).
This derby against AEK was Savvidis and PAOK fans` chance to show everyone how level-headed they can be and how they have always been unfairly targeted. They were two points behind AEK and were going to win this derby with no crowd violence, no episodes and would not give anybody a reason to speak ill of them. The crowd was excellent, loud, passionate and did not cause any issues. Savvidis, on the other hand, made the entire derby a complete mess in a incident that we are all very familiar with by now.
The result of this new administration that was going to “clean” Greek soccer? Well let’s look at the facts:
- Fan violence in the 2017 Greek Cup Final that resembled more of WWE Royal Rumble match and an offside goal to crown PAOK the champions
- PAOK owner Savvidis invading the pitch with a gun
- Referees making calls from the locker room area
- The league being suspended indefinitely
- FIFA intervening to save Greek football
- PAOK facing the possibility of a massive punishment (possible relegation)
It seems to me like Greek football is hardly getting any better. If anything, the situation is at an all-time worse and drastic measures need to be taken. If you look at what the PAOK camp is saying though, the grass is greener than ever, PAOK is once again the big victim and Greek football is soaring. Things are so bad right now that you can only laugh and tell yourself “Thank God we have our Sundays back…”