PAOK President asks for “apologies” for entering the field with a gun

Ⓒ AFP – stringer – | Ivan Savvidis breaks into the field with a pistol in his belt, during the match between PAOK and AEK played on Sunday, March 11 in the Greek city of Thessaloniki

PAOK Thessaloniki president, Greco-Russian businessman Ivan Savvidis, on Tuesday asked for “apologies” for interrupting the game against AEK Athens on Sunday, breaking into the field with a pistol in his waist, an incident that caused the suspension of the game on Monday. Greek soccer championship.

“I want to apologize to the PAOK fans, to all the Greek fans and to the entire international football community,” Savvidis wrote in a statement distributed by his club, based in Thessaloniki.

He added that his intention was to enter the field to avoid the invasion by the fans after a decision by the referee and denied that threatened the referee.

Sunday’s game in Salonica was stopped in the 90th minute when a goal by PAOK Cape Verdean defender Fernando Varela was first voided by referee Giorgos Kominos out of play, which led to a strong protest from the home team after which the AEK left the field.

In the middle of the protests Savvidis had entered the field with the pistol in the waist to threaten to Kominos.

Some three hours later Kominos changed his decision conceding the goal to PAOK which would allow him to take the first place in front of the AEK if this hypothetical 1-0 victory was agreed.

Kominos could not convince the AEK players to return to the field when they feared for their safety.

– Threat of FIFA –

On Monday the Greek government reacted urgently to put an end to a new escalation of violence in recent weeks that had as a culmination the armed irruption of Savvidis on the lawn, images that have been around the world. He decided to suspend the championship until he found a “new frame” with all the actors that allowed him to resume.

FIFA, for its part, threatened to suspend Greece’s status as a member of the international federation.

“FIFA pressures all national actors to react immediately to put an end to the unacceptable situation emerging in Greek football,” the institution said.

In addition, the Greek police issued an arrest warrant Monday against Savvidis, which was not located. This Tuesday, when he was no longer wanted because the Greek law established 24 hours to find him, the businessman was in Thessaloniki, according to his club.

Savvidis, possessor of a weapons license, incurs in the violation of the sports law – by invading the field of play -, as specified by a judicial source.

However on Tuesday several courts asked why he was not arrested immediately when he jumped onto the lawn. Savvidis did it accompanied by three private bodyguards and a policeman in charge of his protection.

“Who governs this country?” Asked the left-wing newspaper Diario de los Redactores on Tuesday, with a photo gallery of the leaders of the four great Greek clubs; PAOK, AEK, Olympiakos and Panathinaikos.

– ‘Protect the fans’ –

“He clearly did not have the right to enter the field,” Savvidis added in his statement, adding that this “emotional reaction” was caused by “the generalized negative situation in Greek football recently” and “all unacceptable incidents, not sports , which occurred at the end of the game “on Sunday.

“As the situation could degenerate, my only goal was to protect the tens of thousands of PAOK fans from provocations, and even to prevent human casualties,” he continued.

“Believe me, I did not intend to interfere with the referees and I did not threaten anyone, but unfortunately my family and I, as well as my colleagues, have been the hostages of a completely sick football world,” he said.

“I fight and will continue to do so, despite the constant attacks, for fair football, honest refereeing and winning the championships on the ground and not in the courts.” “Once again, I present my apologies,” concluded Savvidis, signing as “president of PAOK.”

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