The annual derby between the "greens" and Olympiakos at the Olympic Stadium in Athens turned into a "war" between Panathinaikos fans and members of the riot forces. The clashes began even before the match, resumed in the break between the two halves and put an inglorious end to the match. As a result, the damage to the stadium is so great that the Ministry of Culture (and sports) is plotting to prohibit holding matches at the Olympic Stadium.
The match failed to finish under these conditions. The big loser is the football club of Panathinaikos, for which a severe penalty is expected. Points are considered to be taken from this year’s as well as from next year’s championship.
The match was suspended in the 82nd minute. Until then, the result was 1-0 in favour of Olympiakos after Abdul had scored a goal in the 51st minute of the match. A little earlier, during the break, the match was interrupted for about an hour because of heavy fighting in the stands. When seats, plastic bottles and other objects started flying onto the pitch, referee Tassos Kakos summoned the football players of both teams and went to the changing room.
Minutes later, Panathinaikos fans attacked the police officers who were charged with guarding the hot match between the two "eternal enemies". Ferocious fans threw anything they could against them. Torches, light rockets, chairs, fire extinguishers flew at the police forces. Fires were lit at stands 4, 5, 7 and 34. The clashes were brought into the area around the stadium, while calls for suspension were echoing from the speakers.
"Fans, protect the history, our hosting of the match and our team. Protect our team Panathinaikos in any way. Go back to your seats. The interruption is not in favour of Panathinaikos but of the opponents."
A little later, the stadium was empty after the "green" fans had decided to leave it.
Twenty-three of them will face the prosecutor to explain the violent clashes. They were accused of using petroleum Molotov cocktails and other violations of the sports law. The total number of seizures reached 57, the majority of them being young people. During the violent clashes, twenty police officers, two of whom are in serious condition, were injured from flying objects.
According to an official release of the Attica Police Headquarters, a large and organized group of fans originally attacked the police officers with petrol bombs, light rockets, iron rods, stones, wood and other objects in order to enter the stadium without tickets. Police forces repelled them by using tear gas. Even before the start of the match, fans had already entered the stadium after the check, came out and attacked the police officers. The clashes involved fans, who were waiting to be checked. As a result, a large number of them entered the stadium.
During the checks, police officers found in front of one of the entrances three 16 litre tubes of highly flammable liquid, three unused Molotov bombs and remains of many other bombs, 15 light rockets and a hammer. The police stressed that serious riots occurred during a match at which fans of the opposing team were not present. Due to expectations that the derby will not escape clashes, authorities say they have taken security measures not only around the stadium, but also throughout Athens.
They announced that police patrols had been sent out to public transport stops, in underground trains and the electric train, to places where fans gather, places where the teams stay and along their route to the stadium. Many police officers, equipped with special protective equipment, were deployed in the stadium and even around it.
Shortly after midnight, the chairman of the General Secretariat for Sport Panagiotis Bitsaksis made a statement implying that the next championship may be postponed.
"We had two options. The first one was to postpone the match and the other was to take measures for it to continue. If we had postponed it because the smell of gunpowder was in the air, they would say that the government intervened in the league. We decided that the importance of the match was so great that it should be played."
The chairman of the General Secretariat for Sport stressed the responsibility of the teams’ management bodies for the behaviour of their fans. "If the fans of Panathinaikos want to destroy their team, we cannot do anything about it. Teams are responsible. It is not possible for the state to assume the responsibilities of the body organizing the league at this point."
The team, in turn, stated that the management body had made every effort to "maintain normal conditions for the match. Unfortunately, events happened that were impossible to control." At the end of the text, Panathinaikos expressed relief that "fortunately, we avoided the worst."