AOK's president gets 3-year ban for gun incident

Paok Salonika president Ivan Savvidis invade the pitch with a gun to confront the referee. Net photo
 
ATHENS - Greek club PAOK Salonika's president Ivan Savvidis was banned from all soccer stadiums for three years for storming onto the pitch with a gun during a league game, the league's disciplinary committee said on Thursday.
 
The club were also stripped of three points, ending their title chances.
 
Savvidis, a Georgia-born businessman and former Russian state Duma deputy, charged onto the pitch with a gun in his belt when a goal for PAOK was disallowed in a match against fellow title contenders AEK Athens on March 11.
 
The game was interrupted and the incident prompted an immediate suspension of the league by the Greek government as world soccer's governing body FIFA considers possible action against Greece over repeated crowd trouble and violence in the stadiums.
 
The government lifted the ban on Tuesday with Superleague matches set to resume over the weekend.
 
Savvidis was also fined 100,000 euros ($123,000) and the club, fined an additional 63,000 euros, must play three matches behind closed doors.
 
PAOK sports director Lubos Michel, a former international referee, was banned for 90 days and fined 15,000 euros after also entering the pitch and complaining to the referee.
 
The disciplinary committee awarded the game to AEK Athens and stripped two points from PAOK from next season's championship. PAOK said they would appeal.
 
"The sanction is harsh and was delivered under the pressure of a coordinated media storm against PAOK," the club said in a statement. "We are proceeding with an appeal and await to be judged on real facts."
 
FIFA has warned Greece to clean up football or risk a possible international ban. "The word Grexit is no more impossible. Greek football is going to an edge," Herbert Huebel, head of a FIFA monitoring committee for Greek football, said earlier this month.
 

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