Greek police arrest dozens over links with sports violence

At least 50 people have been arrested in an attempt to stamp out hooliganism in the country

Renee Maltezou
Monday 22 April 2024 12:38 BST

Greek police arrested dozens of people on Monday as part of an operation to eradicate sports violence, following the killing of a police officer in clashes that broke out during a volleyball match in Athens in December.

Sports violence on and off the pitch has been frequent in Greece and authorities have in recent years repeatedly promised to take steps to eliminate hooliganism.

A police official said that at least 50 people have been arrested so far in a wide operation that started on Monday and included raids at homes and confiscation of weapons and other evidence.

In December, 31-year-old officer Georgios Lyngeridis was severely injured by a flare in clashes between riot police and a group of volleyball fans during a match between Olympiacos and Panathinaikos teams. He later died from his injuries.

Hundreds of people were initially detained over the incident and one man has been jailed pending trial on manslaughter charges over the killing of Lyngeridis.

For two months all Super League 1 matches were played behind closed doors as part of the measures the government had announced in response to the case.

In August 2023, AEK Athens fan Michalis Katsouris was stabbed to death in violent clashes before a Champions League match between AEK and Dinamo Zagreb. Days later, Uefa president Alexander Ceferin urged Europe to help eliminate hooliganism, which he called “the cancer of football”.

The death of 19-year-old soccer fan Alkis Kampanos in rival clashes in the northern city of Thessaloniki in 2022, had also shocked Greece and had prompted the government to promise action.

(Further reporting by Yannis Souliotis)

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