PAOK President After Apologises After Gun Incident

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TThe president of Greek club PAOK Salonika has apologised after he came on to the pitch with a gun during his side’s match on Sunday.

“ECA exists to protect the integrity and regularity of competitions and matches as well as the sporting values and principles on which European football is based.”

The suspension will be reported to the ECA general assembly in Roma on March 27.

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Savvidis invaded the pitch along with members of his security detail after PAOK’s Fernando Varela had what he thought was an 89th-minute winner rule out for offside.

“I am very sorry over what happened. I clearly had no right to enter the field of play in this fashion,” Savvidis said in a statement.

He asked his team to leave the pitch after PAOK had a goal ruled out in the 89th minute against AEK Athens and then marched towards the referee with two bodyguards before being pulled back.

The executive board of the ECA, which represents European clubs, “unanimously decided” to suspend PAOK with immediate effect.

Savvidis went on to claim his intention was to protect PAOK fans and made further allusions towards football in Greece being systematically unfair.

“All of this created a degraded situation on the pitch and my only goal was to protect tens of thousands of PAOK fans from provocations – complications – human casualties,” he added.

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“Believe me, I had no intention of interference with the opposing team or the referees. And I certainly did not threaten anyone.

“Unfortunately, both me and my family, as well as my colleagues, have been hostages of the totally ill soccer establishment.

“I am struggling and will continue to strive, despite the constant attacks I take at all levels, for a fair football with honest arbitration in all the races and for winning the championships on the courts rather than in the courts.

“Once again, I apologise.”

His deputy minister for sport, Yiorgos Vassiliadis, had told reporters after an emergency meeting with Tsipras that the league would “not start again without a new framework agreed by all.”

Vassiliadis said the government was in close contact with European football body UEFA, which he said had been “shocked” by the incident.

Despite Savvidis’ apology, the European Club Association – the UEFA-recognised body representing the interests of professional clubs across the continent – has moved to suspend PAOK’s membership on account of his actions.

In a statement, the ECA said it “strongly condemns” Savvidis’ behaviour and added: “In light of this, and in accordance with the ECA Statutes, the ECA Executive Board unanimously decided to suspend, with immediate effect, PAOK FC as member of the European Club Association.

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