Chaos reigns as PAOK and Olympiacos derby cancelled

Chaos reigns as PAOK and Olympiacos derby cancelled



PAOK Abd. Olympiacos

Violence erupted between angry PAOK Salonica fans and police on Sunday after a crucial Greek SuperLeague derby against Olympiakos Piraeus was controversially cancelled.

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The North versus South derby clash was called off in farcical circumstances before a ball was kicked when Olympiakos coach Oscar Garcia was hit in the face by a paper roll from a cash register thrown from the stands at PAOK’s Toumba Stadium.

Spaniard Garcia was taken to a nearby hospital for examinations following the incident and was kept in overnight with what was announced as “internal bleeding of the lip”, after Olympiakos officials had pulled their players off the pitch in protest after the 44-year-old technician fell to his knees just before kick-off clutching his face.

More than two and a half hours after the match was due to kick-off at 19:30 local time, it was announced that the match would not go ahead.

Before that, however, there had been ugly scenes outside the stadium as thousands of PAOK fans began to file out of the ground, with several hundred making their way to the players entrance.

There they fought running battles with police, using flares and loud firecrackers which made the atmosphere resemble a war zone as they tried to approach, with the police using tear gas to disperse the angry mobs, who continued their rioting in the surrounding streets.

Following the decision to cancel the game, all that remained was the official report of events from referee Alexandros Aretopoulos. It's contents will decide what punishment PAOK will receive.

According to the Hellenic Football Federation’s (EPO) regulations, the cancellation of the match due to an injury to players or officials from an object thrown from the stands means that Olympiakos will be awarded a 3-0 victory on paper, while PAOK also face a deduction of three points, two matches played behind closed doors, and a fine up to 90,000 euros.

The punishment will come as a significant blow to PAOK’s title hopes as it means that instead of the six-point lead currently held over third-placed Olympiacos, both teams will be level on 49 points.

This is, however, pending the result of an appeal on Mar. 1 against a three-point deduction for Olympiakos for clashes following their match against AEK on Feb. 4.

PAOK press spokesman Kyriakos Kyriakou accused Olympiakos of having pre-planned their actions. “Obviously, Olympiakos came here with this specific goal.They are delusional and the only thing they came here to do was to scream and shout, and to provoke,” he told reporters.

He added: “They have been doing this for 30 years. Tonight they have found themselves a made-up reason to stop the match from going ahead. Anyone can keep a fantasy alive for a few minutes but not forever.”

PAOK went into the match six points clear of Olympiakos and on the back of a remarkable run of form having won their previous 10 league matches in a row, while Olympiakos arrived in Salonica looking to save their season, having already been knocked out of the Greek Cup earlier this month by AEK.

In a further twist, PAOK press sources told Reuters that the match doctor attempted to examine Garcia immediately after the incident, but was refused entry to the Olympiakos dressing room for 20 minutes.

by Graham Wood
Image Source: sporfm.gr
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