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Greeks outraged, but don’t expect much

Violence and disgrace marred Greek football scene last week, but not much is expected to change says George Hatzimanolis from Athens

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27 February 2011

Greek football supporters from around the country and the world have expressed their outrage at the events that took place during and immediately following last week's derby between Olympiakos and Panathinaikos, but as most of them have written on internet forums, they don't expect any real consequences to come of it.

Although a prosecutor that deals with football-related issues has charged Olympiakos and its owner, Vangelis Marinakis, in connection to the pitch invasion, clashes and unsporting comments at the end of the Reds' derby win over Panathinaikos on Saturday, supporters of rival clubs Panathinaikos,PAOK Thessalonikis, AEK Athens and other clubs don't expect the punishment anywhere near as harsh as it should be.

"We all know how corrupt Olympiakos and in general how corrupt Greek football is, do we really expect them to be punished for this," wrote user thira13, a PAO supporter on the www.sport.gr site.

Another fan, who supports PAOK, said "can you imagine if the PAOK fans had done anything like this, we would be kicked out of the league for sure, but they (Olympiakos) will probably get a one match ban, at most."

Olympiakos are being charged for allowing up to 1,000 fans onto the pitch at the end of the game.

Some of these supporters attacked Panathinaikos players as they left the field.

Marinakis is being charged with bringing the game into disrepute over his confrontation with some opposition players after the game as well as his comments to journalists.

The maximum penalty that Olympiakos can receive is to be forced to play two games behind closed doors.

Marinakis is likely to be fined for his behavior.

Speaking to Skai TV on Tuesday, Panos Bitsaxis, the General Secretary for sport, said that the unsavory incidents at the end of the Olympiakos vs Panathinaikos derby on Saturday confirmed that clubs are not doing enough to get their houses in order.

"The conclusions from the derby are that as an institution, as a cooperative of teams, the Super League is not in a position to organise a championship," he said.

He also repeated the government's position that soccer clubs should have any state funding withdrawn if they fail to stamp out violence. One of the main sources of funding for all clubs is sponsorship from the state-controlled gambling firm OPAP.

"We say clearly and directly that we are going to close the tap on state sponsorship," he said. Bitsaxis said that the contracts OPAP signs with clubs from now on would contain strict clauses allowing the company to stop its funding if the teams are bedeviled by fan violence.

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