Govt Cancels Greek Cup Tournament Semi-Final

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Reports on Thursday morning that the Greek government’s relevant ministry would cancel this year’s football cup tournament were partially confirmed hours later with a decision to postpone Thursday’s game between AEK Athens and Atromitos Peristeri (Athens).

The unprecedented decision came less than 24 hours after widespread hooligan violence stopped the first leg of the semi-final between PAOK Thessaloniki and Olympiacos Piraeus.

PAOK supporters stormed onto the pitch and launched hundreds of objects at players, coaches and referees at the team’s Toumba field in Thessaloniki. PAOK fans and the club’s management were angry at perceived poor officiating against their side.

The other semi-final match-up was scheduled to start at 7:30 p.m. (17.30 GMT).

Reports circulated on Thursday morning claimed that relevant deputy sports minister Stavros Kontonis would force the cancellation of the tournament due to security concerns. Kontonis later issued the decision for the other semi-final game on Thursday.

The announcement wasn’t clear if only the AEK-Atromitos match would be postponed or whether the entire tournament would be cancelled.

In a related development, PAOK issued a statement on Thursday announcing that the club’s board members voted to abstain from the “rubber match” with Olympiacos. The Piraeus side was ahead 2-1 on Wednesday evening when the game was called in the 88th minute.

PAOK also called for the resignation of Greek Football Federation president and “all those involved with Greek football (soccer) who face criminal prosecution”. The Thessaloniki side also demanded foreign referees be used in games next season.