December 21 – Greek football, which lurches from one crisis to another, is back in the doldrums with all Super League games scheduled for this weekend suspended after referees went on strike following a “cowardly attack” on one of their colleagues outside his house.
Thanasis Tzilos (pictured) was set upon by masked assailants near his home in Larissa on Wednesday, with the FIFA-level referee needing treatment at a local hospital for head and leg injuries before he was released a day later.
“We express our indignation of the cowardly attack against our colleague Thanasis Tzilos and the repeated attacks on referees,” the association of referees said in a statement. “We will not allow those people to continue trying to terrorise us. As a sign of sympathy we will refrain from our activities until further notice.”
No top-flight games are scheduled from December 24 to January 1 since Greece has a winter break meaning the competition will likely resume on January 4.
Leading clubs Olympiakos and Panathinaikos both condemned the attack, the 27th on a referee since 2009. “Greek football has reached the pits,” said a spokesperson for Olympiakos, while a representative for their Athens rivals said, “The mafia in Greek football lives and reigns”.
Greek club football has been plagued with problems for years. The league was suspended in March after PAOK Salonika’s president entered the pitch with a handgun while the 2014-15 season was suspended no fewer than three times.
At the end of last seasion the Hellenic Football Federation (HFF) finally took the decision to fly in a non-Greek referee for the final match of its season, the Greek Cup final between AEK and PAOK. Olympiakos had actually proposed before the season that the league flew in independent referees for all matches because of the levels of match-fixing in Greece and the loss of trust throughout the game and fans of the independence of Greek officials.
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