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Greek priest punished for hooliganism

A Greek priest and die-hard football fan has been punished by the Orthodox Church for hooliganism, Church officials in this northern city said on Monday. Priest Christos (photo) was a fervent supporter of top-flight side PAOK FC, whose fans are notorious for being among the most violent in Greece, and he would attend games dressed in his robes and a club scarf.”Papa Paok”, as he was known to the fans, earned notoriety after videos of him were posted on the video-sharing website YouTube. One showed him in the middle of a throng of supporters who were insulting an opposition team, and another showed a crowd chanting “The priest is a God”.The clerical commission in his parish, in a Thessaloniki suburb, decided enough was enough. The priest, who is in his sixties, was demoted and ordered not to take part in any more “uncouth gatherings of supporters”. The decision angered PAOK fans, who organised a Facebook campaign entitled “Free Papa Paok” which already boasts 7,500 members.In a press release, fans denounced the decision saying the priest carried out the “social and spiritual work of the Church on behalf of the people” and accused the Orthodox Church of a “fascist and reactionary approach”.

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