Greek derby abandoned as armed owner confronts referee

By Israel Igiri

The Greek Super League derby between PAOK Salonika and AEK Athens was postponed on Sunday after the home side’s president, Ivan Savvidis, who appeared to be armed with a gun, and his entourage stormed the pitch following the disallowing of a late goal.

Third-placed PAOK thought they had scored in the 89th minute to claim a vital victory, but after initially seeming to allow the goal, the match official Georgios Kominis ruled out it out for offside.

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This prompted Savvidis to intervene, striding onto the pitch followed by his entourage to confront the match officials. Although he was convinced to leave the pitch, he later returned having removed his overcoat o reveal a pistol handle protruding from a holster in his belt.

Kominis and his colleagues quickly left the pitch after being threatened by Savvidis as confirmed by AEK’s Spanish coach Manolo Jimenez, who told Spanish radio Onda Cero, that Savvidis went up to the referee, showed him his gun, and said: “your career as a referee has ended.”

The referee first postponed and then abandoned the game although there was some confusion over the final score, with PAOK claiming on Twitter that the goal had been reinstated but the league’s website showing the score as 0-0.

It is the second time in less than two months that PAOK’s Toumba Stadium has been the setting of disturbances in the Greek Super League.

Savvidis, a businessman, came to the limelight in Russia and once served in parliament as a member of Vladimir Putin’s United Russia Party.

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