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Iraklis: We did the best for both teams by not admitting the organized fans of CSKA

13 January 2012 / 22:01:59  GRReporter
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Anastasia Balezdrova

The volleyball game between the teams of CSKA Sofia and Iraklis for the Champions League, which took place two days ago, caused violent reactions and the involvement of the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry. In fact, the game was normal, but the problem was that the organized fans of CSKA were not admitted to the hall to watch it.

Once it became clear that the "red" were preparing to file a complaint with the International Volleyball Federation, GRRepoerter decided to seek the opinion of the hosts. First, we talked with Michalis Melisidis – a long-time sports journalist and commentator on this game for OTE TV.

"The teams of CSKA and Iraklis met four years ago, again in the Champions League. Then, fans of the Bulgarian team came for the game and threw a lighted torch to the floor where the fans of Iraklis were. The game was interrupted, there was a little fighting. The delegate of the game was the Swiss Fischer. He recorded all the events and as a result of his report, CSKA Sofia was punished because it was proven that the fans of the Bulgarian team had caused the events.

The World Volleyball Federation sent the same delegate for the game, which took place two days ago to see if it would take place in a calm manner and whether the sanctions imposed four years ago had a result.

Indeed, nothing happened during the game. There was information before the start of the game that three buses with CSKA fans were on their way to the hall. The fans did not have tickets purchased in advance and Iraklis was not able to give them any, because all the tickets had been sold to the fans of the Greek team.
The truth is that the hall was full of 2,500 fans of Iraklis and the fact that so many fans without tickets were coming was disturbing. This prompted an increased police presence for a normal basketball game in the Champions League. There were three police buses in front of the hall. The police officer told us that one of the buses of CSKA with the officials would be admitted, which happened. The president of CSKA and about 20 people were sitting in the stands without having any problems. The buses with the fans did not get to the hall, because the police had stopped them a few kilometres outside Thessaloniki and they returned."

GRReporter contacted the Deputy Chairman of the volleyball team of Iraklis, George Manolopoulos. He denied that CSKA had made an official request for tickets for the game. "I am the person responsible for these issues. None of CSKA had made a formal request for tickets by phone, fax or email." When asked with whom the people from CSKA had talked, he replied that they had had contacts with "people they know from the team" and repeated emphatically that there had been no formal request.

According to George Manolopoulos, the International Volleyball Federation had purposely sent the Swiss Fischer as a delegate of the game as he is also the chairman of the judiciary committee of the Federation. "When he asked for our opinion about the conduct of the game, we said that it was not possible for fanatical fans of both teams to attend it. In the particular hall, the audience is located only on one side and there is no way to separate the fans of the teams. Therefore, together with the delegate from the International Federation we decided not to admit organized fans in the hall. I'm not talking about the ordinary fans of CSKA, who came."

According to the representative of Iraklis, the Bulgarian team was informed about this decision. "The security officer who came to the game asked for the phone numbers of CSKA representatives to inform them on the day of the game. I do not know what he said, but I believe that he informed them of the decision of not admitting organized fans. You know how it is in Greece. Organized fans are not admitted even to football matches without permission from the police."

However, because we have good relationships with CSKA Sofia, we told them that fans of the team could come, but not organized ones. I would like to emphasize that even if they had made a valid request for tickets, we still would not have given them tickets because the most important thing is to protect the security of the game. We did it for our and their safety, precisely because both teams have such a past."

George Manolopoulos said that the game was normal and in the end, Iraklis fans applauded the players of CSKA. The relations between the presidents of both teams were not affected by this development either. "The video of the game shows how CSKA players applaud the fans and they respond the same way. This is not something common in Greece."

Regarding the allegations that some fans of the Thessaloniki club reacted negatively to CSKA players, when they got off the bus, he had no specific explanation, but did not exclude the possibility that there might be "some hooligans who were expecting that such fanatical fans would get off the bus. The team cannot be responsible for their behaviour." Iraklis' representative said, however, that in no case a lack of police should be discussed, as there were four police buses around the hall as well as many guardians of the law.

He said the atmosphere between the leaderships of both teams was very good after the game. "Everything else was associated with induction of impressions. You should know that these teams have a very hard core of fans." George Manolopoulos is convinced that the decision not to admit organized CSKA fans was "the best we could do for both teams. If we had allowed them to enter together with Iraklis fans, none of the teams would have gone unpunished."

Tags: SportsVolleyballCSKA SofiaIraklisFansTicketsDelegateInternational Volleyball Federation
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