A Greek football fan was fatally stabbed during a brawl near Athens between rival fans, leading UEFA to postpone Tuesday’s match between Greek hosts AEK Athens and Croatian club Dinamo Zagreb. The fight broke out on Monday evening ahead of the UEFA Champions League third-round qualifying match between AEK and Dinamo at the Nea Filadelfeia stadium on the outskirts of the Greek capital.
The 29-year-old man died in hospital, police said on Tuesday. His age had initially been put at 22. Seven people were being treated in hospital for injuries. The casualties included a minor admitted to hospital after being hit on the head by a stone, public television channel ERT said. Police said they had arrested 98 people, 84 of them Croatians.
Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic telephoned his Greek counterpart, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, “to send his condolences and condemn the violence”, the country’s official news agency Hina reported.
UEFA condemned “in the strongest possible terms the appalling incidents” and expressed sympathy to the victim’s family. “Following yesterday’s violence and in consultation with the local authorities, UEFA has decided that the conditions for the match between AEK Athens FC and GNK Dinamo to go ahead tonight are not met,” UEFA said on Tuesday.
Terrible scenes in Athens as Dinamo Zagreb fans have injured several people ahead of the #UCL clash tomorrow.
It is even reported that there may be multiple casualties. 😞
— Greek Focus (@TheGreekFocus) August 8, 2023
A 22 year old was murdered in Nea Philadelphia, a neighbourhood of Athens by Croatian fans of Dinamo Zagreb meanwhile many locals were also attacked. I’ve also seen that a 13 year old is currently being hospitalised. This is truly sickening. pic.twitter.com/3u6GLMOE0Y
— βάλλ' εἰς κόρακας🏺🇬🇷 (@AegeanNative) August 8, 2023
An alternative date will be found for the postponed match — August 18 or 19 being the suggested possibility.
UEFA said the second leg, due to be played in Zagreb next Tuesday, would go ahead. Supporters of both clubs have been banned from traveling abroad for both matches.
The Greek Ministry for citizen protection said fans from both sides had clashed near the Nea Filadelfeia stadium, throwing stun grenades, stones, incendiary devices, and other items. Some were carrying bats, police said.
The violence started after the visiting team had completed training and left the pitch under police escort, the ministry said. Greek news agency ANA said an investigation had been launched and those arrested would appear before the state prosecutor later Tuesday.
Dinamo Zagreb’s board of directors condemned the violence. roatia’s interior ministry said it had sent Greek police, Europol, and Interpol, “relevant information” about supporters who might seek to make the journey despite the ban.
Violence has marred a number of football matches in Greece. After a stabbing death last year, the government increased the maximum sentence for fan violence from six months to five years.
Alkis Kampanos, 19, was killed in February 2022 in the northern city of Thessaloniki during a fight between supporters of the city’s rival clubs Aris Thessaloniki and PAOK. Last month, seven defendants were found guilty of his murder and handed life terms with five others jailed for complicity.