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Greek football club owner storms pitch armed with gun

PAOK fans during a Greek Cup match against Olympiakos George Groutas/CC/Wikimedia

Greek police issued an arrest warrant Monday against PAOK Thessaloniki owner Ivan Savvidis for invading the pitch with a hand gun. The incident took place during Sunday's Super League match with AEK Athens. As a result, Greece's championship were suspended indefinitely.

The score was 0-0 in the crucial match, and time was running out. When PAOK defender Fernando Varela scored what could have been the last-minute winner, referee Giorgos Kominos ruled off-side.

It was too much for PAOK owner Savvidis, a Greek-Russian businessman who owns  newspapers and is said to be close to Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.

Surrounded with bodyguards he stormed on to the pitch, gesticulating angrily. TV footage shared on social media show that he carried a hand gun in a hip holster – cowboy style.

Savvidis was hurdled off the pitch, and the referee changed his opinion.

But the AEK players refused to go back to finalize the last minutes of the match, saying they felt their lives were in danger.

On Monday, Greek police issued an arrest warrant Savvidis for his armed invasion of the football pitch.

Savvidis defended his behaviour.

"Ivan (Savvidis) didn't threaten anybody with a gun," his media department told Russia's Sport Express newspaper.

"It means that the provocative headlines in certain media are totally untrue.

"He carries weapons as he has a permission for it. It's not prohibited in Greece."

Savvidis' press office told Sports Express: "PAOK are currently in the (Greek league) leading group with fair chances to win the title.

"It has caused various provocations against the club. Savvidis has allowed himself some excessive emotions but, once again, he didn't threaten anybody with a gun."

After an emergency meeting with Tsipras, Greek minister for sport, Yiorgos Vassiliades, said that Greece's Super League championship matches were suspended indefinitely.

"It will not start again without a new framework agreed by all," Vassiliadis said, adding that the government was in close contact with European football body UEFA.

[With AFP]