Posted on: 13/Apr/2011
PAOK Salonica have been ordered to play their final home match of the season behind closed doors as punishment after fans invaded the pitch and a goalkeeper was hit by a flare at a Greek Cup match last month.
The Greek soccer federation’s (EPO) disciplinary committee on April 4 announced the decision, which also includes a heavy 250,000 euro fine - the largest financial penalty which has been handed out this season. The decision means PAOK will face Kerkyra in their final match of the regular season on April 17 without supporters. PAOK lost 1-0 to AEK Athens on March 16 in a Greek Cup semifinal second-leg match at Salonika’s Toumba stadium that was marred by two outbreaks of violence.
The first came in the 58th minute when a flare hit AEK’s Argentine goalkeeper Sebastian Saja. The player’s jersey was singed but he was not injured. Then, with barely a minute remaining, dozens of PAOK fans invaded the pitch and started clashing with riot police.
TV cameras were also attacked as AEK players and the referee ran off the pitch. Play was suspended for 20 minutes before the referee returned to blow the final whistle. No stoppage time was played. The incident was the fifth pitch invasion of a season plagued by violence inside and outside Greek stadiums.
A players’ strike was narrowly averted in March after their PSAP union failed to get the backing of all 16 top flight clubs — a move prompted as a reaction to the increase in crowd violence.
Top clubs Olympiakos Piraeus and Panathinaikos were both handed supporter bans after hundreds of fans invaded the pitch, fighting police and attacking players following Olympiakos’ 2-1 win over their closest rivals on February 19. Attacks by supporters on the Super League offices and the home of Olympiakos player Vasilis Torosidis followed. Panathinaikos assigned bodyguards to several players as the fallout continued.
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