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PAOK’s President Gets 3-Year Ban for Gun Incident

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FILE PHOTO – Russian-born Greek businessman and owner of PAOK Salonika, Ivan Savvides (C), pictured with what appears to be a gun in a holster, enters the pitch after the referee annulled a goal of PAOK during their soccer match against AEK Athens in Toumba Stadium in Thessaloniki, Greece, March 11, 2018. Intimenews via REUTERS

Greek club PAOK Salonika’s president Ivan Savvidis has  been banned from all soccer stadiums for three years for storming onto the pitch with a gun during a league game. The league’s disciplinary committee who said on today also stripped the club  stripped of three points, ending their title chances. Naija News Learnt

Savvidis, a Georgia-born businessman and former Russian state Duma deputy, charged onto the pitch with a gun in his belt when a goal for PAOK was disallowed in a match against fellow title contenders AEK Athens on 11 March.

The game was interrupted and the incident prompted an immediate suspension of the league by the Greek government as world soccer’s governing body FIFA considers possible action against Greece over repeated crowd trouble and violence in the stadiums.

The government lifted the ban on Tuesday with Superleague matches set to resume over the weekend.

Savvidis was also fined €100,000 and the club, fined an additional €63,000, must play three matches behind closed doors.

PAOK sports director Lubos Michel, a former international referee, was banned for 90 days and fined €15,000 after also entering the pitch and complaining to the referee.

The disciplinary committee awarded the game to AEK Athens and stripped two points from PAOK from next season’s championship. PAOK said they would appeal.

“The sanction is harsh and was delivered under the pressure of a coordinated media storm against PAOK,” the club said in a statement. “We are proceeding with an appeal and await to be judged on real facts.”

FIFA has warned Greece to clean up football or risk a possible international ban.

“The word Grexit is no more impossible. Greek football is going to an edge,” Herbert Huebel, head of a FIFA monitoring committee for Greek football, said earlier this month.

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