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Greek Referee’s Home Attacked after League Leader Held

December 24, 2019

ATHENS – The Greek Football Federation has condemned an attack on the home of a video assistant referee only hours after a controversial topflight match decision.

No one was hurt in the house attack early Monday.

Police said attackers smashed a window and threw a firecracker into the Athens home of the VAR official after league leader Olympiakos was held to 0-0 at Volos, in central Greece on Sunday. A goal by Olympiakos was disallowed for offside early in the second half.

The federation said the “mafia-style” attack by “thugs (was) aimed at intimidating football officials.”

The head of the Athens referees association, Panagiotis Varouchas, told the AP he has repeatedly asked authorities for additional police protection for his members.

“They ignored us, so what happened was to be expected,” Varouchas said. “The referee has two young kids, so his family was a bit shaken up. We need better protection or the league won’t find referees for big matches.”

Professional Greek soccer has been troubled by violence for decades, with attacks on referees, arson attacks against fan associations, and street brawls between rival fans — with the incidents often triggered by controversial match decisions.

League organizers last year began using match officials from abroad to address frequent accusations of corruption and bias. VAR was introduced months later.

Olympiakos club owner Evangelos Marinakis blasted the decision not to award the goal, maintaining reforms in refereeing have failed to address bias in decision making. He described the bosses of major rival clubs as “manure” who were spoiling the Greek professional game.

Olympiakos, which has struggled to uphold its traditional dominance in recent years, leads the Greek league. But second-placed PAOK, a point behind the leader, hosts mid-table Atromitos later Monday.

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