March 13 – Greece’s Super League has been suspended “indefinitely” by the Greek government following the pitch intervention in a top of the table clash between PAOK and AEK Athens by Ivan Savvidis, owner of PAOK. Savvidis entered the field carrying a holstered handgun on his hip and allegedly threatened the referee after a 90th minute goal was disallowed.
“We have decided to suspend the Championship indefinitely,” Greece’s Deputy Culture and Sports Minister Georgios Vassiliadis told Greek media after a meeting with the Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.
“We are in communication with UEFA and the Championship will not resume unless there is a new and clear framework agreed by everyone so we can move forward with rules and regulations. We are not going back, we continue the fight for transparency and a better football.”
An arrest warrant has been issued for Savvidis relating to the pitch invasion. He has a license to carry a gun though in Greece police are not aloowed to carry a gun in football stadia.
“Ivan (Savvidis) didn’t threaten anybody with a gun. It means that the provocative headlines in certain media are totally untrue. He carries weapons as he has a permission for it. It’s not prohibited in Greece,” said a statement on behalf of Savvidis to Russian media.
Savvidis is a Russian oligarch who previously held the position of Deputy to the State Duma in the Russian government between 2007 and 2011. He took over PAOK in August 2012.
Savvidis is a Russian citizen of Greek origin from the Pontic-Greek community in the former Soviet Union. His business career saw him rise from the factory floor to becoming one of the biggest players in the Russian tobacco market. When he took control of PAOK he was hailed as a saviour of the club from Northern Greece which has traditionally been supported by Pontic Greeks.
The Greek FA (HFF) is just exiting control by a normalisation committee appointed by FIFA in close co-operation with UEFA to run the game in the country after years of allegations of matchfixing.
Under the new administration PAOK and Savvidis were generally reckoned to have been big political winners in the new hierarchy with Savvidis even describing the new HFF president as “one of ours”. PAOK recently avoided a three point deduction by the HFF after a disciplinary hearing concerning an incident at a PAOK vs Olympiacos match that saw the Olympiacos coach injured by an object thrown by a PAOK fan.
Now it looks as though Savvidis by his own actions has shot himself, and the club, in the foot.
The big loser is the league which is in danger of going unfinished. Currently clubs have five or six games left to complete their 30-game season schedules. AEK leads the table a point ahead of Olympiacos and with a game in hand. PAOK are four points behind Olympiacos.
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