Probe of Gun-toting Club Chairman Begins in Greece

Ivan Savvidis
Ivan Savvidis

Probe of Gun-toting Club Chairman Begins in Greece

A Thessaloniki prosecutor has ordered a judicial investigation after the gun-toting owner of PAOK Thessaloniki   Ivan Savvidis marched onto the field following a disputed goal in a Greek league match.

Ivan Savvidis
PAOK owner, businessman Ivan Savvidis invades into the pitch during the Greek League soccer match between PAOK and AEK Athens in the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki, Sunday, March 11, 2018. Savvidis invaded the pitch twice. The second time, without the overcoat he was wearing before, a pistol was clearly visible in its holder. AEK officials claim Savvidis threatened the referee during his first foray into the pitch, before being pulled away by his retinue. (InTime Sports via AP)

Savvidis  apologised Tuesday for what he called an ’emotional reaction’ to the referee’s decision and ‘the general negative condition in Greek soccer.’

The incident prompted condemnation from FIFA and an indefinite suspension of league play.

The probe will also investigate why police allegedly ignored instructions to arrest Ivan Savvidis on the spot, issued by a prosecutor on duty at Sunday’s game against AEK Athens.

Savvidis entered the field accompanied by bodyguards, apparently carrying a pistol in a waist holster. He made no visible move to use the weapon, for which he has a license.

Fernando Varela had just scored in the 90th minute, putting PAOK ahead 1-0. The referee signaled a goal but then seemed to disallow it for offside. The match was abandoned.

In a statement on the club’s website, Savvidis said his only intention had been ‘to protect tens of thousands of PAOK fans from provocations and clashes (with) victims.’

PAOK had said in a statement: ‘After what happened today, PAOK chairman Ivan Savvidis is preparing all necessary procedures to protect the team and all his collaborators from the threats and attacks they have been subjected to.

‘There will be relevant announcements on the issue soon.’

On Monday, Super League fixtures were suspended following the chaos.

‘We have decided to interrupt the championship. It won’t start again unless there is a clear framework, agreed by all, to move forward with conditions and rules,’ Greek Deputy Culture and Sports Minister Georgios Vassiliadis said.

The incident has been described by some soccer fans as a resemblance of a scene from horror movie. The incident is coming less than 100 days to the world cup where 32 countries will battle for honours in Russia with everything being done by FIFA and Russian authorities to ensure maximum security.

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