The murder of a 19-year-old football fan in Greece’s second-largest city Thessaloniki in the early hours of Tuesday has left the people of Greece shocked and appalled.
The victim, Alkis Kambanos, along with two friends were intercepted and attacked at around 1 AM as they were walking in the street in the eastern district of Harilaou by several people riding in two cars.
The 19-year-old bled to death after being stabbed in the upper thigh, while the other two victims are being treated for multiple injuries at Papanikolaou Hospital.
The murder weapon, a sickle, was discovered by locals a few meters away from the crime scene, next to a garbage bin. Authorities were alerted to the finding and the weapon has been sent to the police crime lab.
Murder in Thessaloniki linked to football hooligans
According to reports, one of the attackers asked the victim which soccer team he backed before launching into the assault. Harilaou is the Thessaloniki district where the football field of the soccer club Aris is located.
Police sources believe that up to ten people were involved in the attack. They suspect that the killing of the Aris fan was carried out by football hooligans of a rival team.
Politicians, football clubs in Greece express abhorrence after murder
In a rare display of unity, Thessaloniki’s football clubs joined forces in condemning the murder.
The soccer club Aris said in a statement “Another young man was killed by a group of murderers, who have been circulating and operating undisturbed in Thessaloniki for years. He made the ‘mistake’ of supporting Aris and being with his friends in their neighborhood.”
Aris’ arch-rival team PAOK issued a statement saying that “our society, our city and our country cannot tolerate the deaths of young people under the pretext of fan preferences. We mourn every loss.”
The logo of the Iraklis football club appeared in yellow and black — the colors of Aris — in solidarity with their Thessaloniki rivals.
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis expressed his abhorrence of the teen’s murder during a conversation with MPs on the sidelines of a meeting with party officials in Thessaloniki Tuesday and contacted Citizen Protection Minister Takis Theodorikakos asking him that priority be given to the investigation of the crime.
The murder of a 19-year old young man due to football club rivalry is a tragic event that highlights an immense social problem, said SYRIZA-Progressive Alliance party.
In a statement, Syriza party youth representatives in Thessaloniki added that the incident “should concern us all, and be the reason for a definitive end to the bloody cycle of blind, sports-related violence.
“These murderous practices have no place in sports, in our city’s society, or in the history of all sports clubs in Thessaloniki. It is time for everyone to assume their responsibilities,” the party added, while also expressing sincere condolences to the victim’s family.
Hooliganism mars football in Greece
Hooliganism is rife in Greece, with clashes between rival fans and the police a common occurrence. Greek football authorities have banned traveling supporters out of fear of riots.
Several officials have been accused of inciting violence with violent behavior.
One of the most notorious incidences of violence was in 2018. A big match between first-division teams PAOK Thessaloniki and AEK Athens descended into rioting after a controversial offside decision.
PAOK owner Ivan Savvidis charged onto the pitch with a holstered pistol on his belt and could only be calmed down from causing further mayhem by his own security personnel. After that disturbing incident, the operation of the Greek Super League was suspended for 16 days.
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