UEFA and Greece to clamp down on football hooligans after fan’s death in Athens

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin met Greece’s prime minister on Wednesday and promised to do more to deal with organised violence in football in the wake of a deadly attack led by Croatian fans in Athens.

ADVERTISEMENT

Ceferin held talks with Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis. They were joined later by representatives from Greece’s four major clubs.

A 29-year-old AEK Athens fan, Michalis Katsouris, was stabbed and killed last week after scores of supporters of Croatian club Dinamo Zagreb, many wearing masks and wielding wooden bats, staged an attack outside the Greek club’s stadium.

Wednesday’s meetings were held hours before the Super Cup match between Sevilla and Manchester City at Karaiskakis Stadium near Athens.

“We have a fantastic match tonight but this time it’s a bit different,” Ceferin said.

“We all feel sorrow. We feel outrage because of the idiotic things that happened, the violence without any reason,” the UEFA president said. “This is a cancer of football. Don’t call them football fans because they are not football fans.”

Candles and flowers lie, on the location where a 29-year-old Greek soccer fan has died after overnight clashes between rival supporters in Nea Philadelphia suburb, in Athens.

Mitsotakis said AEK, Panathinaikos, Olympiakos and PAOK from the northern city of Thessaloniki had agreed to place supporters’ organisations under tighter control. He added that Athens would support closer cooperation between UEFA and European Union law enforcement agencies.

More than 100 people, mostly Croatian nationals, have been detained on charges of murder and membership of a criminal gang in the wake of the Athens attack.

Croatian President Zoran Milanovic accused Greek authorities of treating the arrested fans like “prisoners of war,” in remarks earlier this week that a Greek government official described as “unhelpful.”

UEFA called off a Champions League qualifier between AEK and Dinamo last week but rejected a request by the Greek club to suspend the Zagreb team.

Late Tuesday, AEK came from behind for a 2-1 win with a 90th-minute goal at Maksimir Stadium in Zagreb.

Costas Galanopoulos, who scored the late goal, held up a black armband after putting in the winner.

ADVERTISEMENT

“We really wanted the win. We didn’t come here for a draw,” the 25-year-old Greek midfielder said. “I didn’t know how to celebrate the goal, and I didn’t want to provoke anyone — the fans or the team — but it was the least we could do as players and as a club.”

AEK will host Dinamo on Saturday.

AdvertisementThe new Emirates Premium Economy has arrived on the latest Emirates A380 Emirates Get the best value from your summer holiday with exclusive offers and discounts across Dubai and the UAE with Emirates Pass