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May 3, 2011

Greek FA facing funding cuts

The Greek Football Federation (EPO) has been warned it will not receive any more government funding after riots following the Greek Cup final this weekend.

AEK Athens ended a nine-year trophy drought by lifting the trophy on Saturday with a 3-0 win over Atromitos but, after the game, riots ensued and some AEK fans invaded the pitch, fought with Atromitos players and abused their fans. Atromitos coach Giorgos Donis even claimed that flare guns were aimed at supporters in the VIP stands.

Greek police saw 22 officers injured - five seriously - as hooligans tossed flares, fireworks, seats and plastic bottles on to the pitch following the final whistle and arrested 13 people on charges including possession of explosives, arson and disturbing the peace.

"We have asked EPO to change the disciplinary law. If this is not done, the state will suspend all funding to Greek football," deputy culture minister George Nikitiadis told reporters. "Penalties must be put in place to stop the throwing of firecrackers and for any fan to entering the field of play. These penalties must include the deduction of points and in cases of repeat offending, relegation."

A new sports bill will be released by the government in June, enabling authorities to hand out stricter penalties to address the problem of stadium violence, with secretary for sport Panagiotis Bitsaxis adding his voice to the issue.

"The events of the Greek Cup final once again underline the position of the state that if professional football wishes to maintain its self-governed model, then it must ensure that regulations are followed and that the necessary measures for the smooth organisation of football matches are introduced," he said in a statement.

Police are also investigating the suspected arson of an AEK Athens fan club which was targeted, extensively damaging the building, as well as two cars parked outside. Although a police statement said nobody was injured and no arrests were reported.

Greek football has been plagued by violence already this season, with Olympiakos Piraeus, Panathinaikos and PAOK Salonika all being handed out supporter bans after pitch invasions.

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