EUROPEAN FOOTBALL

Greek Super League suspended after PAOK owner enters pitch with a gun to confront referee

An angry Ivan Savvidis, accompanied by bodyguards, stormed in after the controversial top-of-the-table clash against AEK Athens.

Greece’s top-flight football championship was suspended indefinitely on Monday, a minister said, hours after the owner of the PAOK team invaded the pitch with a gun strapped to his belt. “We have decided to suspend the championship,” deputy minister for sport Yiorgos Vassiliadis told reporters after an emergency meeting with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.

“It will not start again without a new framework agreed by all,” Vassiliadis said, adding that the government was in close contact with European football body Uefa.

Police have issued a warrant for the arrest of PAOK owner, Greek-Russian businessman Ivan Savvidis, after he invaded the pitch, accompanied by bodyguards, to confront the referee in protest at a 90th-minute disallowed goal in a top-of-the-table clash against AEK Athens.

The match was interrupted as AEK’s squad walked off the pitch. The goal was later allowed. PAOK and AEK are in a neck-and-neck race for the league title.

A tobacco industrialist with extensive holdings in the northern port city of Thessaloniki, Savvidis recently also bought one of Greece’s top newspapers, Ethnos. He is considered a political ally of Tsipras.

Two weeks ago, another match in PAOK’s Toumba stadium was marked by controversy after a cashier roll thrown from the stands hit the coach of visiting rivals Olympiakos. The match was abandoned and PAOK were initially docked three points, but managed to overturn the decision on appeal.

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