Greece promises new rules for football fan clubs after murder

Undercover Greek police officers escort the 23-year-old man charged with the murder of 19-year-old city resident Alkis Kambanos as they leave the courthouse in Thessaloniki, Greece, Thursday, February 3, 2022. Police raided several fan football clubs in the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki following an attack that left a 19-year-old man dead, linked to a violent rivalry between supporters.  (MotionTeam/Eurokinissi via AP)

Undercover Greek police officers escort the 23-year-old man charged with the murder of 19-year-old city resident Alkis Kambanos as they leave the courthouse in Thessaloniki, Greece, Thursday, February 3, 2022. Police raided several fan football clubs in the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki following an attack that left a 19-year-old man dead, linked to a violent rivalry between supporters. (MotionTeam/Eurokinissi via AP)

PA

Greek authorities promised on Monday to toughen rules governing football fan associations following the fatal attack last week on a 19-year-old man who was stabbed and severely beaten by a gang of youths in the northern city of Thessaloniki.

Nine people were arrested in connection with the February 1 attack in which Thessaloniki resident Alkis Kambanos was killed and two others were injured. Arrest warrants have been issued for two others.

The attackers reportedly carried wooden bats, metal bars, a knife and the curved-bladed hook that was used to stab Kambanos.

The killing drew strong condemnation from political leaders. The victim was a fan of Aris football club and his attackers were allegedly supporters of rival PAOK.

“How can this happen on top of a football team?” the murdered man’s father, Aristides Kambanos said in an interview on state television, his voice shaking as he sat holding his wife Melina’s hand.

“It’s something that needs to be healed. I want it to unite the city. (Thessaloniki) is where I was born and I think it’s the most beautiful city in the world.”

Government spokesman Giannis Oikonomou said tougher penalties and sentencing guidelines for violent fans would be included in a sports bill that will go to parliament next month. It will also include new operating rules for fan clubs which are often used to organize attacks.

“We are going to face violent fans. It is our duty to society and especially to the younger generation, but also to our healthy sports community and the millions of good fans in our country,” Oikonomou told reporters.

One of the suspects was charged with murder, while the other eight appeared in court on Monday. They were taken to the building under high police protection to appear before a public prosecutor.

Following the murder, police raided several football fan clubs in Thessaloniki and the Greek capital, Athens. Several weapons were confiscated. The police consider these places as places where attacks on supporters of rival clubs are organized and where, often, drug sales take place.

European Union Executive Commission Vice-President Margaritis Schinas, from Thessaloniki, visited the scene of the murder over the weekend with flowers, and tributes were left by football fans.

“Violence, fanaticism and hatred of a few will not break us,” Schinas wrote on Twitter. “Those of us who love and serve sport are many and stronger.”

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Follow Costas Kantouris at https://twitter.com/CostasKantouris and Derek Gatopoulos at https://twitter.com/dgatopoulos

___ Derek Gatopoulos reported from Athens. ___

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