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Φωτο: Nick Paleologos/ SOOC

Football club fan associations will close according to Greek Prime Minister

The premier expressed hope that the Greek state will not be forced to activate the ultimate measure, which will be the temporary exclusion of Greek teams from the European football club competitions.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, in statements on Wednesday, announced that the associations of organised team supporters will close and only one official association will remain open for each team and operate at each football club's headquarters. Mitsotakis was speaking after the conclusion of a broad meeting at the Maximos Mansion with the participation of UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin, ministers and the owners of the football clubs Olympiakos, Panathinaikos, AEK and PAOK.

"The fan clubs will close. Every team will have only one, housed at the team's headquarters," clarified Mitsotakis. He also announced that the entrance through the stadium gates used by organised fans will now come under the jurisdiction of the police, who will be empowered to carry out checks at the gates when it's deemed necessary.

The premier expressed hope that the Greek state will not be forced to activate the ultimate measure, which will be the temporary exclusion of Greek teams from the European football club competitions, noting that football team owners had an obligation to first and foremost protect their investments.

On the murder of 29-year-old Michalis Katsouris before a scheduled game between AEK and Dinamo Zagreb in Athens (which was subsequently postponed), he appeared certain that the perpetrators will be found and punished.

He also admitted the Greek police's operational failure in permitting the organised arrival in Athens of the Croatian hooligans who started the violent incidents outside AEK's stadium in Nea Philadelphia.

On his part, UEFA President Aleksandar Ceferin, in his statements, expressed his certainty that such incidents of club supporter violence which resulted in the death of Michalis Katsouris in Nea Philadelphia will not happen again. "I have spoken many times with the Greek prime minister, openly and with self-criticism, and we know what we must do," Ceferin said and called fan violence 'the cancer of football'". "These people are not supporters. They use football for their ideas," he noted and promised that "we will do more to address this phenomenon".

Mitsotakis said there would also be a comprehensive review of the network of policies for tackling violence in sports, adding that cooperation with UEFA was at a very high level. He revealed that, among others, the government is considering the founding of a violence watchdog with the participation of several countries, so that UEFA can give warning in advance of events of elevated danger.

"We must be honest: the phenomenon of violence in sports is not confined to stadiums alone. The phenomenon has often been transferred - and this is again not an exclusively Greek but a European problem - from the stadiums to the streets," the prime minister pointed out.

He noted that supporter fanaticism often served as "an alibi" for criminal, marginal activities and was even taking on a political slant, becoming a danger to public order.

Regarding the investigation into the murder of Katsouris, he emphasised that Greece is a country governed by the rule of law and that its justice system will not permit outside interference, even from official quarters.

Ceferin agreed that the problem of hooliganism affected all of Europe and thanked the Greek prime minister for offering assistance in the framework of the European Union, while adding that there must be cooperation on both an EU and Council of Europe level.

"Here, I count on the Greek government and the prime minister for help," he said, while he also asked for the assistance of the media "in eradicating this cancer from society.

AMNA

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