Another Toumba in Toumba

Another Toumba in Toumba

AGONAsport’s AEK contributor, Greg Gavalas, gives his opinions about the incidents that occured at the Toumba stadium on Sunday.

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The last few weeks in the world of Greek Football have been anything short of a Soap Opera which is very sad considering the pure football excitement we had not that long ago. I even wrote another piece about the Greek Football Culture and the prosperity that could be.

Sadly in the space of two weeks and to today it’s a feeling of sadness and disgust, especially after I had written and hoped to move the game forward from it’s very below the line stance of blaming, finger pointing, and victimised culture and behaviour.

What we have witnessed in the last three games involving PAOK FC have been nothing short of disgraceful. First, with the Olympiakos (OSFP) game that never started due to OSFP coach Oscar Garcia being struck in the head with a register roll; the following week in an away match to Asteras Tripolis, PAOK officials were caught up in very ugly scenes when they attacked Asteras players for what is believed one Asteras players’ gestures toward the PAOK bench; and once again, more recently, the title deciding match between PAOK and AEK has had to be abandoned due to more comical and embarrassing scenes for Greek Football.

To rewind, just a little before the PAOK-AEK match, a 10 hour court hearing on PAOK’s appeal to get the 3 deducted points back following the PAOK – Olympiakos game was granted in favour of PAOK and whilst they lost the game on paper (0-3), they did get the -3 back. This left the Dikefalos tou Vorra just 2 points behind AEK, as such due to the time, tickets for the much anticipated PAOK-AEK game went on sale only on Sunday but were snapped up quickly.

AEK coach Manolo Jimenez set his team up with an interesting balance, one with some attack but also enough players there to ensure a result was reaching as anything but a loss was a good result.

The surprise was Rodrigo Galo starting in midfield and Lazaros Christodoulopoulos on the bench. Niklas Hult, recently acquired from Panathinaikos, also got the start over Portuguese left back flyer Helder Lopez. The former PAO man did ok, but I think Lopez offers much more speed and attack, nevertheless; Hult didn’t let his opposition get the better of him.

On the field it was a pretty even encounter. AEK had the best chance of the first half when Sergio Araujo’s spectacular shot was wide of the target.

Before that, some wild tackles saw both benches, starting with AEK, protest too much and even on the pitch, where the tackles were, again silly scenes as players over inflated their injuries in the hope for a card to the opposition.

Both teams had good chances to score from the 60th to the 70th minute and we got to see some nice football which didn’t feature so many stop-start fouls.

So that brings us to the later stages of the game where PAOK was awarded a corner, what ensures after this has resulted in the Greek Super League being suspended for 20 days.

After initially awarding the goal to PAOK, the referee and assistant needed to consult each othe. A good 5 minutes this took alone as AEK and PAOK players, frustratingly would not let the two men talk in attempts to plead their cases.

The goal was then disallowed for a brief period before, once again, all hell broke loose, as scuffles broke out and PAOK chairman, Ivan Savvidis, stormed the pitch with a gun in his waistband.

Savvidis was seen ordering his players to leave the field, not sure what that was going to achieve, but PAOK captain Vieirinha had some voice of reason and said no to PAOK’s owner.

In this time on the field, Savvidis has threatened the referee and AEK officials, added to the threats are Lupos Mikhel, in this time, Savvidis and Mikhel have threatened the referee with job and life threats.

AEK players then retreated to the dressing rooms and remained as PAOK players remained on the field hoping the match would get played out.

Nothing would eventually happen for 2 hours and the referee, Giorgios Kominis, recorded on the official match report that the goal stands and that PAOK was up 1-0 when the match was called off. However, in his report it is stated that the match was in fact abandoned due to the invasion of Savvidis and threats from him and Mikhel. AEK official, Vasilis Dimitriadis, was also threatened.

Also noted, is AEK would not play given the environment and felt petrified given a gun was brought onto the field and arena.

With the league suspended, it’s believed UEFA will be involved in the process to follow.

We keep saying they need to change in Greece but when will it happen? the credibility of the league has taken yet another massive dive backwards. When will the sugar daddies be properly reprimanded?

It just cannot go on. The Greek game is losing many fans by the day at the moment, or so they say, but who can blame fans for “having enough” in a League and country where common sense, policing, and structure mean so little.

If appeals keep going on and on until the minimum penalty is applied, where does that get us? It gets us back here.

The judge who granted PAOK the 3 points back for damages in the Olympiacos saga looks like an idiot, it caused no purpose, in fact the PAOK fans were good against AEK. It was the PAOK officials that ruined the game and the face of Greek Football once again, the same guys who are appealing for the Olympiacos game to go ahead again also…

Put the hammer down. Why are they scared to give real punishment in Greece to the likes of PAOK and Olympiacos? Of whom we await to see what their appeal brings for the 3 points that were initially penalized following the conclusion of the AEK game at the Karaiskakis in February. Panathinaikos has been the recipient of many penalties and started the season -2 after losing -3 in the playoffs, costing them European places and revenue.

You need consistency to get credibility and Greece is so far of the mark it’s ridiculous. As mentioned, Olympiakos is appealing their -3 points later this week, will they also be rewarded? One hopes not.

Is it a horrible and embarrassing circle? Is it corruption that’s causing the same issues every season? Why is it that every time there is something to get excited about in “Greek Football Club land” it ends with suspensions and lost points.

Why is such a minority, be it a fan or two, or in this case, a crazy chairman that have to ruin it for everyone? Does Atromitos deserve the league suspension on them? They want to focus on football, below them there are 7 teams fighting for a European berth/ Kerkyra and Apollon are having a herculean battle to remain in the Super League.

See, there are these amazing things going on, but instead of having the pleasure of focusing on those and the Championship battle, we have to focus on the bullshit that stems from bullshit people in power like Ivan Savvidis and his son George Savvidis. PAOK had a great chance to display themselves in the best way possible. They were the most in form team on Earth at one stage, instead they have proven what I said years ago right, the club is not ready to embrace today’s society. They have done some amazing things off the field from marketing and commercial perspective, actually which was great, but they can’t do the simplest thing… start and finish a football game… if you can’t get that right you don’t deserve to be a champion of anything.

We await to see what happens in the Soap Opera Part 2... I hope the right penalties are given and I hope for once, the powers that be, grow some brains and work with UEFA to create some credible organization going forward so Greek Football can be in the focus for the right things.

by Greg Gavalas
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