PAOK chief Ivan Savvidis invades pitch with gun after offside goal

PAOK president Ivan Savvidis (centre) is escorted off the pitch after marching onto the field of play carrying a gun. Picture: AFP
PAOK president Ivan Savvidis (centre) is escorted off the pitch after marching onto the field of play carrying a gun. Picture: AFP
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The Greek Super League match between PAOK Salonika and AEK Athens was abandoned at the weekend after an 89th-minute goal for the hosts was ruled out for offside, and the club president invaded the pitch while carrying a gun.

Ivan Savvidis twice entered the field of play during the match, and the Greek-Russian businessman had to be forcibly restrained as he squared up to referee Giorgios Kominis.

Savvidis, clearly carrying a gun in a hip holster, marches on to the pitch at the Toumba Stadium. Picture: AP

Savvidis, clearly carrying a gun in a hip holster, marches on to the pitch at the Toumba Stadium. Picture: AP

The league has been suspended indefinitely, with Greece’s Deputy Sports Minister Giorgos Vasiliadis announcing the postponement of all top-flight games on Monday after meeting with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.

Images showed Savvidis on the pitch with his bodyguards, carrying a gun in a holster and attempting to confront members of the AEK backroom staff including Vasilis Dimitriadis.

The game was tied at 0-0 when Fernando Varela scored in the last minute, only for the officials to rule the goal out for offside, leading to Savvidis marching onto the pitch.

The game was abandoned two hours later when AEK’s players refused to return to complete the game.

PAOK have said in a statement that Savvidis is “preparing to take all necessary steps to protect the club and all his executives and associates from the threats and attacks they are suffering.”

Reports in Greece state that an arrest warrant has been issued for Savvidis, along with four others following the pitch invasion.

Despite a law prohibiting anyone, including police officers, from carrying a gun within a football stadium in Greece, Savvidis is understood to be wanted over the pitch invasion rather than the fact he was carrying a gun at the time.

AEK sources claimed that Savvidis had threatened the referee during his first encroachment, before being led away.

After the chaos, the referee reportedly changed his mind and recorded the goal and a subsequent 1-0 win for PAOK.

AEK manager Manolo Jimenez appeared to confirm the referee’s change of heart.

He told reporters after the match: “Right now we are leaving the stadium with a police escort.

“The referee has invalidated the goal for offside, there was a brawl and many people entered the pitch, including [PAOK’s] president, with bodyguards.

“After the pitch invasion, the referee left the field of play, and after two hours wanted to resume. We said no. The shame is that, in the end the referee gave them the goal.”

Last month, PAOK’s league encounter with Olympiacos was abandoned before a ball was kicked.

Olympiacos coach Oscar Garcia was struck by an object thrown from the crowd, which was reported to be a toilet roll.