Greek police were again caught off guard in Lamia as hundreds of supporters clashed with police and each other on Saturday, injuring 14 people and forcing officials to suspend the Final Four handball tournament between AEK, PAOK, Vrilissia and Doukas.
Two AEK supporters were stabbed by PAOK hooligans, as travelling supporters of the Macedonian club attacked an AEK fan club in the city, in what appeared to be a premeditated and unprovoked attack. Witnesses indicated that the PAOK hooligans had at least double the numbers of the AEK fans, outnumbering them approximately 200 to 100.
When other AEK fans learned of the attack and subsequent torching of the fan club, they responded with large numbers in the central areas of the city resulting in the hospitalisation of over 10 PAOK hooligans.
The main group of AEK fans travelling by bus from Athens had been diverted to avoid increasing the numbers involved in the clashes.
Witnesses also indicated that the PAOK supporters had been under constant police supervision. As the clashes intensified shops were damaged as police fired tear gas into the fray. Order was restored for a time after the rival groups were separated by the police, but new clashes began in the stadium ahead of the match, a national cup semi-final, forcing authorities to order a suspension of the entire tournament of finals planned for the weekend.
The police department said 14 people including three police officers were injured, without giving details. Thirteen suspects were arrested and a further 20 detained pending further investigation, a police statement said.
“The match has been suspended indefinitely because of the pitiful incidents… and the handball cup finals will likewise be suspended for the same reasons,” general sports secretary Panagiotis Bitsaxis said in a statement.
“The police failed to meet their responsibilities,” Lamia mayor George Kotronias told private Flash Radio. “They had given us a guarantee which they failed to live up to.”