Kathimerini Greece Newsroom
Investigations are underway to determine how an estimated 100-120 Croatian hooligans traveling on buses and in cars made their way to Athens from Zagreb on Monday and engaged in deadly clashes with local soccer fans despite a ban on supporters traveling to Greece for a match between Dinamo Zagreb and home team AEK on Tuesday.
According to sources that spoke to Kathimerini, the Hellenic Police (ELAS) department for dealing with sports-related crimes had been informed of the arrival of the Croatian fans through the Kakavia crossing on Greece’s border with Albania since early on Monday afternoon.
It also appears that bulletins were sent out from police headquarters in Athens to all the district police departments the Croatian fans’ motorcade would be passing through to reach the capital, with orders to keep them under discreet surveillance.
The motorcade was, apparently, only followed briefly in Rio in western Greece. An internal police inquiry is being conducted into the lapse in surveillance.
The Croatian fans believed to belong to an organized hooligan group, reportedly met up with members of an affiliated Athens club at a pre-arranged location and together made their way by car and train to AEK’s stadium in Nea Filadelfia, where Dinamo Zagreb had finished practicing just a few hours earlier in preparation for Tuesday’s UEFA Champions League third-qualifying-round match at the OPAP Arena and had left the pitch under police escort. The match has since been canceled.
The clash took place with dozens of AEK fans outside the stadium. Some reports said that the AEK supporters were hanging out at bars and cafes in the vicinity, while others indicated that they were assembled at the location, pointing to a possible rendezvous between rival fan clubs.
The brawl between the two groups was violent and involved Molotov cocktails, clubs, projectiles and knives. A young AEK supporter was stabbed multiple times and died shortly after in hospital. His age was initially put at 22, though later reports suggested he was 29 years old.
Police were dispatched to break up the brawl and dozens of Greeks and Croats have been arrested, though it is not clear whether the person who may have carried out the fatal stabbing is among them.
The incident comes as Greece is set to host the UEFA Super Cup final at the Georgios Karaiskakis Stadium in Neo Faliro on the southern coast of Athens on August 16.