Greece Suspends Soccer League Following Pitch Invasion

Greece Suspends Soccer League Following Pitch InvasionGreece Suspends Soccer League Following Pitch Invasion

Greece suspended its soccer league indefinitely on Monday, a day after the gun-toting owner of PAOK Thessaloniki marched onto the field following a disputed goal at the end of a match.

Sports Minister Giorgos Vasileiadis, speaking after a meeting with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, said league play was suspended and would not restart “if there is not a new, clear framework agreed to by all so we can move forward with conditions and regulations”, the AP reported.

PAOK owner Ivan Savvidis walked onto the field accompanied by bodyguards and appeared to be carrying a pistol in a holster around his waist. The Sunday match in the northern city of Thessaloniki between PAOK and AEK Athens was eventually abandoned after the disputed 90th-minute goal, which would have put PAOK ahead 1-0.

Police said earlier Monday they were investigating Savvidis, who holds a gun license, for illegal entry onto the field and for possession of an object that could cause harm in a sporting venue.

 FIFA Criticizes Move

“First of all, FIFA fully condemns such behavior,” the sport’s governing body said in a statement. “Given that this incident occurred in the context of a national competition, any disciplinary measure to be imposed falls under the jurisdiction of the deciding bodies of the Greek FA.”

Vasileiadis said Greek sporting authorities were “in open contact with UEFA” and would be holding meetings with the Greek Soccer Federation later Monday to discuss further moves.

“The government for the past three years has given great battles to manage to clean up the troubled football sector. We have won a lot, but much more remains to be done,” the minister said. “In any case, we will not allow all this effort to be endangered; we will not allow phenomena of the past to be resurrected.”

In Sunday’s match, Fernando Varela scored in the 90th minute, putting host PAOK ahead 1-0. The referee signaled a goal but then seemed to disallow it for offside.

Savvidis marched onto the field twice accompanied by bodyguards. On the second occasion, without the overcoat he had been wearing earlier, his pistol was visible. However, Savvidis made no move to use the weapon at any time.

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