Tear gas, Molotov cocktails and lasers greet Greek football team
Tear gas, Μolotov cocktails, rocks and lasers were among some of the obstacles players with the Athens soccer team, Olympiakos had to deal with during an away match in the Northern Greek city of Thessaloniki last night (see here for video).
The PAOK - Olympiakos match, which ended in a no-score draw, was always going to be fraught with the potential for conflict following the clashes between fans of the two teams in previous games. In addition the controversial referring of the previous leg of the Greek league championship game added to the mounting tension between the two teams.
Hundreds of PAOK fans pelted riot police with rocks and bottles before and after the game, set fire to buses and attacked the coach carrying referees and Olympiakos players.
During the match fans made use of lasers in orders to blind or distract players from the Athens team. Olympiakos goalkeeper, Antonis Nikopolidis lashed out at two PAOK fans who assaulted him just seconds after the final whistle. Also bottles rained down on players taking corners and Molotov cocktails were thrown by PAOK fans at a coach waiting to take away members of the visiting team outside the stadium.
According to eyewitnesses the riot police also fired tear gas into the crowds inside the stadium just after the match finished in order to disperse fans.
The area surrounding the PAOK stadium in the Toumba suburb of Thessaloniki resembled a war zone as police made extensive use of tear gas in efforts to disperse fighting fans both before and after the game. Eight arrests were made and according to official police reports eight officers were injured, one of whom was hospitalised.