Olympiakos fans raise a banner ahead of the Group A Europa League soccer match between Olympiakos and West Ham at Georgios Karaiskakis stadium in the port of Piraeus, near Athens, Greece, Thursday, October 26, 2023. Photo: AAP via AP/Thanassis Stavrakis

Olympiacos have vowed to “exhaust all legal means” in an appeal against a punishment for fan violence that cost the team the lead in the Greek league.

The October 22 match between Olympiacos and historic rival Panathinaikos was stopped in the 50th minute with the score 1-1. Panathinaikos defender Juan Carlos Perez Lopez had been injured by an exploding firecracker while warming up on the sidelines at Olympiacos’ Karaiskakis Stadium in Piraeus.

In a decision published in full on Monday, a sporting tribunal awarded the match 3-0 to Panathinaikos, deducted a point from Olympiacos’ league total and ordered the club to play two home games without fans.

Following the ruling and subsequent round of games at the weekend, Panathinaikos lead with 22 points from nine matches, followed by Olympiacos with 18 from eight.

Greek soccer has been troubled by fan violence for decades despite repeated efforts by governments to crack down on organised supporters’ clubs and make club owners more accountable.

Overseas referees are used for key top-flight matches and the Italian referee Fabio Maresca was in charge at the October 22 match.

Olympiacos said it would “exhaust all legal means for its vindication” in its appeal.

“We are facing a well-organised attempt to tamper with the championship,” the club said without elaborating.

“Olympiacos has been punished with an unfair and absolutely wrong decision. We are certain it will be overturned on appeal – otherwise it would be a minefield for the league.”

As noted in the 40-page tribunal decision, a doctor who examined the 33-year-old Perez Lopez said the player has suffered temporary hearing loss in his left ear and dizziness as a result of the firecracker explosion.

Speaking to reporters last week, government spokesman Pavlos Marinakis said police were continuing raids on supporters’ clubs operating illegally, resulting in 148 arrests since tougher legal measures were introduced earlier this year.

“Authorities have a powerful legal arsenal at their disposal,” he said. “The major clubs and those who govern football have an obligation to protect the professional sport or face the maximum possible penalties that can be imposed.”

Source: AAP

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