Saturday’s big game in Athens was called off after violence broke out between fans of Panathinaikos and Olympiakos.
Referee Andreas Pappas made the decision 30 minutes after the Super League match was due to start after taking into account the violence both inside and outside the Apostolos Nikolaidis Stadium.
Immediately after the decision was announced to the spectators, dozens of fans rushed onto the pitch and fought with riot-trained police.
Police used tear gas and fans threw flares onto the pitch, causing a choking atmosphere for the sold-out crowd of 23,000.
Many plastic seats were destroyed inside the stadium and thrown onto the field by unhappy fans, while a handful of small fires were also set off.
Police said at least five people were arrested and there were a number of injuries reported.
Two hours before the scheduled 5.30pm GMT kick-off, unruly Panathinaikos fans fought with police stationed outside the stadium, throwing rocks and other debris at officers who in turn responded with tear gas to put a halt to the violence after 10 minutes.
Police also clashed briefly with fans inside the stadium near the players’ entrance tunnel, with one officer taken to hospital after being struck with a plastic chair thrown from the stands.
The appearance of the visiting Olympiakos players on the pitch then prompted four flares to be thrown towards them by fans, and the club’s vice-president Savvas Theodoridis told Greek cable television network Nova, which was broadcasting the match live, that “the new law is clear, the match should not be played. We do not play in a jungle”.
Theodoridis said flares thrown by the fans during the warm-up struck Olympiakos forward Alfred Finnbogason, “burning” the Iceland international’s hand, and Serbian midfielder Luka Milivojevic. Olympiakos quickly returned to the dressing rooms after the flares were thrown.
Panathinaikos could be punished heavily with Olympiakos in line to be awarded a 3-0 win, as well as the home side facing a possible points deduction and heavy fine.
The visitors top the table with 30 points after winning their first 10 matches and entered Saturday’s contest eight points clear of Panathinaikos who sit in second.
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