Greece’s Olympiacos Piraeus FC on Wednesday tabled a series of questions towards the government and at the same time sternly called for a reversal of a decision to bar fans from Thursday’s home game against Bačka Topola, for the Europe League competition.
Olympiacos called the decision “unfair and absurd”, with the announcement reading:
“Olympiacos FC unwaveringly maintains a firm stance against any form of violence, which it backs up with actions, not words.
“Within this context, any initiative aimed at eliminating any extreme behavior from stadiums is welcome, and we hope it will be effective. But for this to happen, this initiative should be aptly justified and governed by seriousness.
“After the recent tragic event and the injury of the unfortunate policeman, for whom we, the entire Olympiacos family, hope he’ll emerge triumphant from the critical battle he’s facing, certain measures were announced (yet again…) by the Greek government to deal with phenomena of fan violence.
“Due to the issuance of a legislative decree and joint ministerial decision by the Ministers of Citizens’ Protection Mr. (Yannis) Economou, Deputy Minister of Citizens’ Protection Mr. (Costas) Katsafados and (Sports Deputy Minister) Mr. (Yannis) Vroutsis, banning entry of our fans as well as those of the visiting team, FK Bačka Topola, to the Karaiskakis stadium for tomorrow’s match in the Europa League, and due to repeated questions we’ve received from our fans as well as UEFA regarding the conditions for holding the match, we publicly request that the Greek government and the relevant Ministers, Mssr. Vroutsis, Economou and Katsafados, provide a clear answer to the following questions:
1. Olympiacos FC has not been punished by UEFA nor by any disciplinary body to play the specific match without fans. Despite this, it will be the first time in the history of European competition that a team will compete in a European match without fans with an act of legislative content and a ministerial decision, by Mssr. Economou, Katsafados and Vroutsis.
Since no sane person involved in football and none of the UEFA officials with whom we spoke about the conduct of the match understands the reasoning behind this decision, please publicly explain the reasoning behind it, so it can be understood by everyone. Silence cannot be taken as an answer but as an admission of a lack of any explanation.
2. Apart from the fans of Olympiacos, who without any explanation are obliged to remain outside the stadium, the visiting team of Bačka Topola has for several days now received tickets, which it has made available to its fans in order to travel to Greece. Some of these fans are already in our country. These people have spent a large sum of money to watch the game, and suddenly no one can explain to them why they’ll be left out of the stadium. Who will compensate these people and by what process?
3. At the same time as our match, a few kilometers away from the Karaiskakis stadium, the match between Panathinaikos and Maccabi Haifa will place as normal, and with the presence of fans. This match will be attended by fans of the Israeli team without any problem. In other words, Panathinaikos fans and supporters who have come to Greece from a country in a state of war can watch their team’s match in a normal manner, without feeling at risk from anything and for any reason, whereas our fans and those who have come from Serbia cannot enter the stadium.
Is there any explanation for this specific singling out of the Olympiacos football team, given that the unfortunate incident occurred outside another venue and in another sport!?
Is there an explanation why Greek citizens cannot attend a European football match of their team because they are fans of the OLYMPIACOS football team? However, they are the same fans in all sports!
Does the government treat Olympiacos fans as citizens with less rights?
4. Yesterday at the Melina Mercouri indoor arena, a few meters from the place where the horrific incident occurred with the injury of the unfortunate police officer, which generated the government’s measures, a volleyball game played by the Olympiakos team took place as part of the men’s Champions League. The match took place without incident, and with the presence of hundreds of fans of our team. Next Friday, Dec. 15, 2023, the match between Olympiakos and Valencia for the Euroleague will be held (next to the closed Karaiskakis stadium on Thursday), with the presence of thousands of our team’s fans.
However, the football match will be played without fans! The same people who went to Melina Mercouri arena yesterday and who will attend the basketball match the day after tomorrow at the Peace & Friendship Indoor Stadium are dangerous for the Greek government if they find themselves at the Karaiskakis stadium on Thursday, as if depending on the sport they watch means they’ll exhibit different characteristics.
Both we as OLYMPIACOS FC and the thousands of our fans who are excluded from our team’s match want to know who is making the distinction and by what criteria?
5. The government’s decisions allow up to 10 representatives of each team (management and staff) to enter the stands. However, you do not mention at all what is applicable for other commercial zones (suites, restaurants) that have no contact with the stands of the stadium. What is applicable for the spaces? What will the people who have leased stadium suites and use them even for business purposes do? Are they allowed access them, yes or no? Has anyone from the government thought about the people who work here, who will lose their daily wages without anyone being able to explain to them why? Is there an answer to this? Only in totalitarian regimes are wage-earners forbidden to do their work, and for businesses to close without reason!
Both we and all our fans, who are citizens of this country, and who without any explanation are the object of discriminatory treatment, we expect those who made the relevant decisions, the Prime Minister and the relevant Ministers, to justify and explain them.
OLYMPIACOS FC will comprehensively consider every legal means to protect our fans and our team from these measures.
The only ones from whom we do not expect any explanation are the Parliament deputies elected from the Piraeus precincts, who remain deafeningly silent. Let them not bother in the future to associate their name with Olympiacos: their attitude will be regarded – and rightly so – as hypocritical. This is especially true for Deputy Minister Katsafados, who is elected by the people of Piraeus, and who with his daily statements and actions insults the people of OLYMPIACOS.
We call on you to immediately answer the above questions, so that all of us cease being smeared abroad.
We urge you to immediately reverse your unfair and absurd decision for our team’s crucial European game tomorrow.