Greek hooligans attacked the riot police outside an Athens volleyball arena on Thursday evening causing severe injuries to an officer who is fighting for his life.
State ERT television said a flare shot by a hooligan severed a thigh artery in the 30-year-old officer, who was reported in critical condition at a hospital.
The violence occurred during a volleyball match between crosstown rivals Olympiakos and Panathinaikos. The game was abandoned when the fighting erupted outside the arena.
Reports say that about 150 people left the arena during the game to attack riot police stationed outside with flares, gasoline bombs and stones, and then returned to the venue.
Police made heavy use of tear gas, much of which wafted into the indoor sports ground. Officers also prevented spectators from leaving the arena amid efforts to identify the person who fired the flare.
Security had been high for the game as the two clubs’ supporters have a history of intense rivalry.
Greek hooligans responsible for several deaths in the last decade
Greek soccer is plagued by endemic fan violence, which often spreads to other sports in which the main clubs field teams, such as basketball and volleyball.
In February 2022 in Thessaloniki, 19-year-old Alkis Kambanos was murdered by a gang of people, who attacked him and his friends in the street. The assailants, supporters of the football club PAOK, asked Kambanos and his friends what football team they supported.
The answer did not satisfy them, and they proceeded to beat and stabbing with knives Kambanos and his two friends.
In August 2023 Michalis Katsouris a fan of AEK Athens was stabbed to death during a brawl with hooligans of the Croatian club Dinamo Zagreb.
Police said nearly 100 people were arrested after the violent clashes, which led European football’s governing body, UEFA, to postpone the Champions League qualifying third-round, first-leg match between the two sides.
Since 1983, when the first death was recorded, at least 13 people have lost their lives in Greece as a result of football hooligan violence and a plethora of violent attacks against rival football team supporters or the police have taken place.
However, the difference between the recent attacks with the ones that happened more than one decade ago, is that hooligans are now better organized and use social media to recruit new members and coordinate their violent actions.
Moreover, according to analysts, the profile of hooligans in Greece, in no way resembles to the profile of the ones in other countries, for example, the UK in the 80s. Hooligans in Greece are largely independent of the football teams and are considered criminals with deep connections to other illegal activities.