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Greek government shuts down sports team supporters’ clubs


Agency Report

Greek deputy sports minister Lefteris Avgenakis announced on Monday the immediate closure of all sports team supporters’ clubs until July 31 as part of a series of government measures aimed at ending fan violence.

The policies come three weeks after the fatal stabbing of a 19-year-old fan in the northern city of Thessaloniki in an attack by alleged hooligans that also left two of his friends injured.

Twelve people have been arrested over the attack and await trial.

Avgenakis said that strict conditions will apply for licensing and operation of the clubs and that each team will be able to have only one recognised club instead of the dozens which operate today.

“The membership register of the clubs will be digital and will be updated every summer, while the club license will be revoked if at least two members are prosecuted for crimes related to fan violence,” Avgenakis said.

He added fan clubs would no longer be allowed to take tickets from the clubs and resell them. Admission will be exclusively by season tickets.

“The suspension of the clubs will be in force until they receive a new license based on new rules and regulations. A reasonable transitional period is ensured until the licensing of the clubs is allowed again,” Avgenakis said.

The government has also made wearing face coverings at a sports event a criminal offence which carries a prison sentence of at least six months.

For the moment, this clashes with Covid rules which require fans to wear masks at matches.

Another measure announced was the sentence for crimes of fan violence to increase from six months to five years.

“Hooliganism is a global scourge, a sad pandemic that has killed dozens of people. We must unite all our forces, government, political parties, teams. No one has the right to miss the invitation against violence,” civil protection minister Takis Theodorikakos said.

He said in the past two weeks 67 sports fan clubs have been shut down across the country, with 17 arrests made for possession of deadly weapons.

Justice minister Kostas Tsiaras said the government’s legislative initiatives aim to “close all the windows within the existing legal framework”.