Greece vows to combat football, sports violence after fan killing

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The Greek government has announced plans for tougher fan club rules and police checks after the murder of a teenager saw eight more people prosecuted this week.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Monday chaired a cabinet meeting that decided to toughen rules on the operation of fan clubs and intensify police checks, government spokesman Yiannis Economou told reporters.

“We owe it to society to tackle fan and youth violence, especially to the young generation,” Economou said.

The crackdown comes after the fatal stabbing of a 19-year-old last week in the northern city of Thessaloniki in an attack by alleged hooligans that also left two of his friends injured.

Nine people have been arrested over the attack, while a tenth suspect is believed to have fled to Albania according to police.

Eight of the suspects, arrested in Sunday raids and facing charges of murder and attempted murder, appeared before a Thessaloniki magistrate on Monday.

They were given a few days to prepare their defense before formally testifying.

The remaining suspect was to be arraigned later Monday.

The attackers have been linked in reports to Thessaloniki club PAOK. The victim was a supporter of cross-town rivals Aris.

Successive Greek governments have sought to curb sports violence, but incidents have surged again in recent months.

On Sunday, two people were hurt in a brawl that broke out in an amateur game in Halkidiki, northern Greece.

Many of the clubs are run by families who wield considerable economic and political influence in the country.

One such prominent sports owner is PAOK president Ivan Savvidis, who is on trial for storming the pitch with a gun at his belt during a 2018 match.

On Monday, his hearing was postponed for the eighth time.

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