Greece is cracking down on soccer hooligans after the vicious murder of a young soccer fan in Thessaloniki by a fan of a rival team.
Justice Minister Kostas Tsiaras, Civil Protection Minister Takis Theodorikakos, Deputy Minister of Sports Lefteris Avgenakis, and government spokesperson Yiannis Economou introduced a stricter legal framework for dealing with violence related to sports on Monday.
This new framework aims at closing any loopholes present in existing legislation related to violence and hooliganism in Greek sports.
Legal provisions crack down on sports-related violence
If the law is passed, sentences for violent crimes involving sports fans will be increased from six months to five years.
If the perpetrator in a case has been involved in similar criminal activity in the past, an additional sentence between two and five years will be handed down.
It will also be illegal to cover one’s face during a sports match, which was a strategy used by hooligans to avoid punishment for criminal acts. Those who violate this rule could be sentenced to six months in jail.
Additionally, under the law, sentences for crimes involving sports fans could not be suspended, and would be tried as a priority.
Notably, Deputy Sports Minister Lefteris Avgenakis announced on Monday that all sports fan clubs and their branches must cease operations until July 31, 2022.
Hooligan soccer fan clubs raided in Greece
Many argued that the clubs were used as a cover for sports violence in Greece, particularly in terms of soccer teams.
Since the murder, 575 fan clubs have been raided by Greek police, resulting in the permanent ban of 67 fan clubs and the arrest of 17 people, according to Civil Protection Minister Theodorikakos.
The steps were taken to avoid any violence in the wake of the murder of a sports fan in Thessaloniki this month.
Theodorikakos stressed that “It is time to kill the Lernaean Hydra of hooliganism together, as a state and as citizens, to unite our forces. For the Greek Police, the law is a law and applies to everyone.”
The Lernaean Hydra was a creature in Greek mythology that had many heads. Once one head was cut off, two would grow back in its place, making the struggle against the creature extremely difficult. Hercules slayed the creature as part of his 12 labors.
Murder based on soccer rivalry shocked Greece
The victim, along with two friends, was intercepted and attacked at around 1 AM on Tuesday morning as they were walking along the street in the 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.
According to reports, one of the attackers asked the victim which soccer team he backed before launching 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 in Greece was carried out by soccer hooligans who supported a rival team.