ATHENS – With more incidents of soccer-related violence in the streets reported even after the killing of a student in Thessaloniki over rivalry between two teams, Greece’s Parliament stamped a bill trying to stop it.
The measure was brought by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ New Democracy government as he vowed to go after the soccer hooligans who had been allowed for generations to wreak havoc in stadiums and outside.
Despite the murder of Alkis Kambanos, a support of the team Aris – for which a dozen suspects said to be fans of PAOK were arrested – the measure to stop sports violence didn’t get unanimous support.
New Democracy lawmakers who make up a majority of Parliament were joined only by the center-left Movement for Change (KINAL) in backing the bill which was opposed by the major opposition SYRIZA, the KKE Communist party and the tiny leftist MeRA25 group. Greek Solution refused to vote, noted Kathimerini.
Kambanos was killed on Feb. 1, dying on a sidewalk after being hit on the head with a crowbar and stabbed in the leg with a curved karambit knife and bleeding out there. PAOK fans have continued to support the alleged killers.
That led to Mitsotakis leading a meeting on sports violence which is commonplace in Greece and has been tolerated by successive governments for whom sports fans are a voting base they didn’t want to provoke.
Soccer fans have been allowed to bring objects that could be used as weapons and flares into stadiums and frequently clash with riot police and the owner of PAOK, Russian-Greek oligarch Ivan Savvidis has had an arrest warrant out for four years for bringing a gun onto the field during a clash, but not prosecuted so far.
The government reforms include tightening rules over the operation of soccer clubs, imposing heavier penalties and increasing police controls to try to deal with hooligans, Euronews earlier reported.
“Combating violence among youths and football fans is our obligation to the Greek society and the younger generation,” government spokesman Gianis Oikonomouhe said at the time. “We expect everyone to contribute to eliminate sports violence,” he said, but they didn’t.
At the time the killing shocked the nation but has faded and no prosecutions have been accelerated despite the outrage at the time that saw people laying memorials at the murder scene, one reading Never Again.