Greek football match delayed as players stage sit-down protest over migrant deaths

Both teams sit in silence at kick-off in protest against the “brutal indifference” of the European Union and Turkish government towards the migrants crisis which is unfolding on the Greek shoreline

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The Independent Football

A football match in Greece was delayed as players staged a sit-down protest for two minutes against the rising death toll of migrants making the treacherous journey to the Aegean islands.

All 22 players and coaches of the two teams, second division clubs AEL Larissa and Acharnaikos, sat in silence to show solidarity and sympathy with the thousands of refugees fleeing conflict or persecution in Syria and Iraq.

A statement was read aloud on the PA system before kick-off, in the Thessalian city of Larissa, which criticised the “brutal indifference” of the European Union and Turkish government.

The announcement said: “The administration of AEL, the coaches and the players will observe two minutes of silence just after the start of the match in memory of the hundreds of children who continue to lose their lives every day in the Aegean due to the brutal indifference of the EU and Turkey.

“The players of AEL will protest by sitting down for two minutes in an effort to drive the authorities to mobilise all those who seem to have been desensitised to the heinous crimes that are being perpetrated in the Aegean.”

The Greek shoreline has become the primary port of entry to Europe with many individuals crossing the Mediterranean and Aegean sea on small boats or rafts. At least 39 migrants died on Saturday, including several children, on their journey from Turkey. More than 60 were rescued near the resort of Ayvacik.

The International Organization for Migration announced on Friday that 244 migrants, out of 55,568 arrivals, had drowned so far this year. Several Premier League clubs have donated small percentages of match day revenue to the crisis efforts. 

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