UEFA Excludes Dinamo Zagreb Fans from All away Games in Europe after Killing of AEK Athens Supporter

August 20, 2023

GENEVA — UEFA excluded Dinamo Zagreb fans on Sunday from all away games in European soccer competitions this season after a Greek fan was killed in violent clashes in Athens this month.

The decision was announced hours after Zagreb was eliminated from the Champions League on returning to Greece for the postponed second leg of a qualifying-round game against AEK Athens.

The game was scheduled as the first leg on Aug. 8 then delayed after the death of a 29-year-old fan, Michalis Katsouris, in violent clashes near the AEK stadium.

Nearly 100 Croatian nationals have been detained in Athens on charges including murder, assault and membership of a criminal organization. Dinamo fans had traveled to Athens despite the club being barred by UEFA from selling tickets for the game, which was classed as a security risk.

UEFA president Aleksandar Ceferin met the Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Wednesday in Athens to discuss how to deal with violence among soccer fans.

UEFA said Sunday all Dinamo matches are now “considered to be high risk and this was unfortunately confirmed by the extreme gravity of incidents” in Athens.

A police officer checks a soccer fan prior to the Champions League third qualifying round match between AEK Athens and Dinamo Zagreb, in Nea Philadelphia suburb, Athens, Greece, Saturday, Aug. 19, 2023. (AP Photo/Michael Varaklas)

Dinamo was ordered now “in conjunction with the relevant political, public security and football authorities in Croatia, to devise and implement a strategy to eradicate football-related violence associated with their club,” UEFA said.

Fans of teams drawn to play Dinamo — starting with Sparta Prague on Thursday — can still receive their allocation of tickets to games in Zagreb.

“Dinamo and the relevant public authorities must take the necessary measures to ensure the safety of visiting supporters,” UEFA said.

Dinamo plays Sparta in a two-leg playoff with the return game in Prague on Aug. 31. The winner advances to the group stage of the second-tier Europa League. The loser goes to the Europa Conference League groups, ensuring Dinamo has six more games – three each at home and away – from September through December.

AEK scored twice deep in stoppage time Saturday to draw 2-2 with Dinamo and advance 4-3 on aggregate score into the Champions League playoffs.

The decisive goal was scored by AEK’s veteran Croatia defender Domagoj Vida with a header from the rebound of a penalty save by Dinamo goalkeeper Dominik Livaković. Vida did not celebrate scoring past his long-time Croatia teammate.

AEK fans held up an image of Katsouris on a banner at the game.



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