PAOK supremo Ivan Savvidis apologies for invading pitch with a gun

PAOK supremo Ivan Savvidis apologies for invading pitch with a gun

PAOK Salonica owner Ivan Savvidis has issued an apology for the invading the pitch with a gun during the controversially cancelled derby clash against AEK on Sunday night which shocked the football world.

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The 58-year-old Greek-Russian businessman had a gun in a belt holster when he entered the pitch at the Toumba stadium after PAOK had a late goal ruled out for offside.

The astonishing incident led to the match being abandoned and the Greek Super League being indefinitely suspended.

“I wish to apologize to all PAOK supporters, Greek fans and the international football community. I am deeply sorry for what happened. I had absolutely no right to enter the pitch the way I did,” said Savvidis in a statement posted on the PAOK website.

On Monday, deputy sports minister Giorgos Vasiliadis announced that the league had been suspended after a meeting with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, while local police said they were seeking Savvidis to arrest him.

Meanwhile, football’s world governing body Fifa has threatened to suspend Greece from international competition and said it "expects" the national governing body to take appropriate measures”.

Savvidis admitted that he lost control of his emotions, and the main reason was for “non sports-related events”.

“My emotional reaction stems from the widespread negative situations prevailing in Greek football lately and from all the unacceptable, non sports-related events that took place towards the end of the PAOK – AEK Athens encounter: the actions of the referee and his assistant (goal – offside – goal), the match suspension, the protests and invasion on the pitch by many people from both sides. All that could lead to uncontrollable situations. My only aim was to protect tens of thousands of PAOK fans from provocation, riots and human casualties.Please believe that I had no intention to engage in a brawl with our opponents or the referees. And Ι obviously did not threaten anybody.

“Unfortunately, my family and I, as well as my colleagues, have been taken hostage by a totally sick football status-quo. Despite the non-stop attacks I am facing on all fronts, I fight and I will continue to fight for fair football, equitable refereeing in all encounters and titles being won on the pitch and not in courtrooms. I would like to apologize once again.”

by Graham Wood
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