Kathimerini Greece Newsroom
Greece has suspended the operation of hundreds of fan clubs associated with soccer teams in a bid to combat hooligans using them as cover.
The ban, which will apply until the end of July, was announced on Monday as part of a series of measures designed to address violence at sports events following the brutal killing of a 19-year-old soccer fan in the northern port city of Thessaloniki on February 1 in an attack connected to soccer fan rivalry.
“Hooliganism is a global scourge, a sad pandemic that has killed dozens of people. We must unite all our forces, government, parties, teams, sports officials,”
Until Sunday, authorities had raided 575 fan clubs across Greece, Citizens’ Protection Minister Takis Theodorikakos told a press briefing. They also issued a permanent ban on 67 clubs and made 17 arrests, he said.
“It is time that we killed the Lernaean Hydra of violence and hooliganism,” Theodorikakos said during the presentation of the provisions of the stricter legal framework, along with Justice Minister Kostas Tsiaras and Deputy Sports Minister Lefteris Avgenakis.
“Hooliganism is a global scourge, a sad pandemic that has killed dozens of people. We must unite all our forces, government, parties, teams, sports officials,” he added.
For his part, Tsiaras stressed the government’s legislative initiatives aim to close all the “windows” of the existing legal framework.
One of the most important interventions has to do with the criminal treatment of offenders, since, to date, the penalties imposed by the courts have not been applied.
Among other things, it was announced that sentencing for fan violence is being increased from six months to 5 years.
In certain cases of dangerous perpetrators, a sentence of 2 to 5 years will be handed down.
A new criminal offense is introduced against those who cover their facial features during a sports match, with a prison sentence of at least six months.
Tellingly, sentences for fan violence will not be suspended, while in case a trial is postponed, the imposition of restrictive conditions will become mandatory.