No sports last Sunday due to football fan’s death

All sports events in football, basketball and volleyball have been halted by government order. The country is mourning the death of Costas Katsoulis, a 46-year-old fan of third-division football club Ethnikos, who was beaten and fatally injured at a Sept. 14 game against local team Irodotos on Crete.

His death restarted a debate on violence, and widely perceived corruption in professional Greek sport.

Witnesses to the Crete attack said a small group of youths used brass knuckles and motorcycle gloves to inflict Katsoulis’ severe head injuries. He died at a military hospital in Athens on Monday.

Three men have been jailed awaiting trial for murder, while a fourth suspect arrested after the attack was released from custody.

Over the past decade, Greece has brought in tough anti-hooliganism laws, introducing mandatory jail time and lengthy match bans for offenders convicted for stadium violence, as well as restrictions on traveling fans.

But domestic football continues to operate in a toxic atmosphere. Major clubs still publicly accuse each other of rigging matches, team security staff are often implicated in fan violence, and supporters’ clubs are frequently targeted in arson attacks.

Maintaining security is complicated by the fact that major clubs have teams in multiple sports allowing rival fans to pick low-policed events for prearranged clashes while club bosses are often leading businessmen with competing interests.

This week, police said a far-left Greek militant group was planning to assassinate the chairman Piraeus football club, Olympiakos, along with other prominent industrialists.

Greece’s Football Association this season turned to an outsider, former Scottish referee Hugh Dallas, to oversee the appointments of Greek match officials.

But critics of the government and sporting authorities say bolder changes are needed to clean up the sport.

AP

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