Greek football is facing yet another crisis, with serious implications from the law and from FIFA and UEFA.
Last week Russian oligarch and friend of Vladimir Putin IVAN SAVVIDIS entered the pitch in the 89th minute at his PAOK club's home match with visitors AEK Athens with his security guards and with a clearly visible gun in his belt holster.The score was 0-0. Referee Giorgoios Vassliadis had disallowed his team's goal. He threatened the referree and said " YOUR'E DONE ". AEK players walked off and the match was abandoned.
The 58 year old tycoon, born in Tsalka, Georgia used to be a member of the Russian duma and is a very rich and powerful businessman. He owns the port of Thesaloniki where the club is situated, plus interests in tobacco and MEGA TV channel and media outlets.. He has not been seen since. One of his sons said in English on his Instagarm account, " We are off to Russia-one small message to all our enemies before we leave.".
The government immediately suspended the Greek Superleague. It did so three times last season due to violence in the stadiums and on the pitch, but nothing seems to work. A half century ago I was hitch hiking from Skopje, then in Yugoslavia, after a massive earthquake had flattened the city and got picked up by a Greek in a large car and driven over the border to Thesaloniki (Salonika). He put some purchases in my rucksack to avoid detection by Greek customs and dropped me off at the train station, saying he would pick me up at 4,00pm the next day. He neverr showed up so after waiting 4 hours I caught the overnight train to Athens. Earlier in the day I had taken a short ferry ride across the port to a beach for a swim. Lots of old ladies in black clothes were having a dip nearby. One got in trouble and none could evidently swim. I pulled her out of the water and was a local hero for a few minutes!!
He has been suspended from entering stadiums for upto five years and fined 55,000 Euros to start with. Greek police claim that he must be getting protection from top politicians including Prime Ministe Alexis Tsipro, since they could not find him. Greek police are not allowed to enter a stadium with weapons, and yet Savvidis did.
FIFA says that Greek football is 'ON THE EDGE OF A CLIFF'. Hubert Hubels of the Austrian FA heads a FIFA committee looking into Greek football problems of lawlessness. The Greek Cup has been abandoned for this season by the government due to violence. Both FIFA and UEFA have asked that it be resummed by an April 1st deadline or the federation and its clubs and national teams will be suspended. The 1st leg of the cup semi-final between PAOK and Olympiakos was abandoned on March 2nd due to violence in PAOK's Toumba Stadium. AEK Athens lead Olympiacos of Piraes in the Superleague with PAOK third until the suspension.