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Greek PM Announces Fan Clubs’ Closure After Football Supporter’s Death

In a move to clamp down on football fans’ violence, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced on Wednesday that organised fans’ football clubs will be closed.

The decision was taken in the context of a meeting with the UEFA president, Aleksander Ceferin, and subsequently with the participation of the CEOs and representatives of Greece’s four major football clubs, Olympiakos, Panathinaikos, AEK, and PAOK.

The meeting was held after the murder of 29-year-old Michalis Katsouris two weeks ago in a clash between fans of AEK Athens and Croatia’s Dinamo Zagreb in Athens last week, ahead of a Champions League qualifications match.

“Organised football fan clubs will be closed. Each team will have only one, based at the team’s offices,” Mitsotakis said, adding that entrance to the stadium by organised fans will be monitored by the police.

In Greece, until recently, football fan clubs were set up on the written consent of the sports association or the section of paid athletes, or by an anonymous sports company founded by the association. Branches and offices of the clubs do not have their own separate legal personality.

By 2020, 150 fan clubs and offices were operating in Greece. Many of them did not have a legal license. After checks, it was decided to close some of them. The legislation for the operation of clubs was tightened in the same year.

In February 2022, after the murder of 19-year-old Alkis Kampanos by PAOK Thessaloniki fans, the operation of all football fan clubs was suspended until July 31, 2022, and the further tightening of the legal framework was announced, with prison sentences of up to five years.

Mitsotakis expressed sorrow for Michalis Katsouris’s death, spoke of criminal gangs and announced the establishment of a violence observatory with the participation of many different countries so that UEFA can give early warning of high-risk events.

The head of the European football body, UEFA, Ceferin, called fan violence a “cancer of football”.

“These people are not fans. They use football for their ideas,” he said and added: “We will do more to deal with this phenomenon.”

Meanwhile, on Tuesday the return match between AEK and Dinamo was played in Zagreb. The first match was postponed after the incident in Athens and has not been rescheduled yet. The game took place in Zagred under heavy police presence and passed without incidents.

Source : Balkan Insight