ATHENS (Reuters) - Matches in Greece’s professional soccer leagues have been suspended indefinitely after a referees’ committee official was admitted to hospital following a violent attack, the Hellenic Football Federation (EPO) announced on Friday.
Police said that 45-year-old Christoforos Zografos, assistant director of the Central Refereeing Committee (KED), was beaten with wooden clubs in the early hours of Friday by two men on a motorcycle in the Kolonos area of Western Athens.
“After an emergency meeting of the Board of Directors, EPO has decided not to appoint referees from Monday (17/11) following the murderous attack on a member of the KED/EPO, hence the indefinite postponement of all matches in all divisions in order to protect those involved,” EPO said in a statement.
EPO added it would not appoint referees to any league matches until “immediate steps” were taken to protect match officials.
Zografos, a former FIFA referee, works under retired Scottish referee Hugh Dallas, who was appointed head of the KED in the close season after continued pleas from Greek clubs for a foreign official to take on the administrative role following several match-fixing scandals in recent seasons.
Matches have already been suspended once this season by the government in late September as a mark of respect following the death of a fan after violent clashes at a third division match.
Ethinikos Piraeus supporter Kostas Katsoulis, 46, suffered serious head injuries following clashes with Irodotos fans in Crete during the match on Sept. 15.
Olympiakos Piraeus president Evangelos Marinakis said he had vital information about the attack on Zografos which he would give to the police and Greek soccer chiefs and he called on all stakeholders in Greek football to put a stop to violence.
“The police and legal authorities need to look into this in great depth, we must all work together to stop this filth,” he told reporters after a meeting of Super League officials.
“I went to the meeting to discuss names and say what I’ve learned from my colleagues and collaborators about this murderous act,” former Super League president Marinakis added.
“We are talking about human lives here, it’s no longer about an insult, or bitter comments which are said on the radio or television in the heat of the moment; we are talking about a murderous attack on the man that is very lucky to be alive.”
Marinakis also said he was available to help police with their enquiries into the incident and made references to evidence of threatening behaviour towards referees which he said was rife in the lower divisions.
“All of this is highly unacceptable and it will not be long before we find it in front of us in a few months in the Super League - that’s why we have an obligation to denounce it and end it here.”
Reporting by Graham Wood, editing by Toby Davis and Ken Ferris