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13th Mar 2018

PAOK president issues statement following gun-toting incident

"I want to apologise to all the fans of PAOK, all Greek fans, the global football community"

Matthew Gault

“Clearly I did not have the right.”

Ivan Savvidis, the gun-toting PAOK president who stormed the pitch during his side’s Greek Superleague match against AEK Athens, has issued an apology for his part in the chaotic scenes that have brought football in the country to a standstill.

The Russian oligarch, one of Greece’s richest men, furiously marched on the field after the referee disallowed a PAOK goal in the 89th minute. The match was abandoned and the Greek Superleague has since been suspended by the government.

Savvidis’ apology turns into something more startling, claiming that he was aiming to protect PAOK fans from ‘provocations’ and ‘human casualties.’ He also fails to mention that he was in possession of a holstered firearm.

“I want to apologise to all the fans of PAOK, all Greek fans, the global football community,” Savvidis said in a statement released on PAOK’s website. “I am very sorry for what happened. Clearly I did not have the right to go out on the pitch in this way.

“My emotional reaction has been caused by the generalised negative situation prevailing in Greek football lately and by all the unacceptable, non-athletic events that took place towards the end of the PAOK-AEK – the actions of the referee and the supervisor (goal – offside – goal), the interruption of the match, the protests and the entry into the playing field of dozens of people of both teams.

“All of this could create a degraded situation on the pitch and my only goal was to protect tens of thousands of PAOK fans from provocations – complications – human casualties.

“Believe me, I had no intention of interference with the opposing team or the referees. And I certainly did not threaten anyone. Unfortunately, both me and my family, as well as my colleagues, have been hostages of the totally ill soccer establishment.

“I am struggling and will continue to strive, despite the constant attacks I take at all levels, for a fair football with honest arbitration in all the races and for winning the championships on the courts rather than in the courts.”

You can draw your own conclusions from that statement. What we can all agree on, however, is that Greek football is far from dull. Off the pitch anyway.