ATHENS (Reuters) – Greece will tighten rules to combat violence at sports events following the killing of a 19-year-old soccer fan in what was believed to be an attack by rival supporters.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis chaired a meeting on sports violence on Monday and government spokesman Giannis Oikonomou said afterwards the government would submit a bill reforming the sports sector to parliament in the coming weeks.
Greek soccer has been plagued by violence on and off the pitch and authorities have in recent years repeatedly promised to clean up the game.
So far at least nine people have been arrested over the killing of Alkis Kampanos, who was beaten and stabbed to death outside the Aris Thessaloniki club’s stadium in the northern city of Thessaloniki on the night of Feb. 1
He and two other males were attacked by a group of people on the street, reportedly after a brief brawl over the team they supported.
There is a strong rivalry between Aris and the city’s other team PAOK. Kampanos was an Aris supporter.
In Greece, fights between football fans and clubs are frequent before or after a game. It is not uncommon for a match to be disrupted by crowd trouble or a pitch invasion, despite the heavy fines imposed.
The reforms planned by the government would include tightening rules over the operation of soccer clubs, imposing heavier penalties and increasing police controls to avert such events.
“Combating violence among youths and football fans is our obligation to the Greek society and the younger generation,” Oikonomouhe said. “We expect everyone to contribute to eliminate sports violence”.
The killing has shocked the nation. People have laid flowers and left candles, handwritten notes and soccer jerseys with his name at the crime scene. One of them read “Never again” .
(Reporting by Renee Maltezou; Editing by Angus MacSwan)