Greek football club PAOK president apologises after gun incident

PAOK president apologises after invading pitch with gun

Savvidis' behaviour also provoked PAOK's suspension on Tuesday from the 230-member group of Europe's most influential clubs.

Greece had indefinitely suspended matches after Savvides was filmed wearing a gun holster as he strode onto the pitch to protest about a PAOK disallowed goal against AEK Athens on Sunday.

"We have made a decision to suspend the championship indefinitely", the deputy sports minister, Giorgos Vassiliadis, said after holding two hours of emergency talks with the prime minister, Alexis Tsipras.

He said: "I wish to apologise to all PAOK supporters, Greek fans and the worldwide football community".

"I am deeply sorry for what happened", Savvidis said in a statement on PAOK's website. "I clearly had no right to enter the field of play in this fashion". Please believe I had no intention to engage in a brawl with our opponents or the referees. My only aim was to protect tens of thousands of PAOK fans from provocation, riots and casualties. So maybe Savvidis is protecting PAOK fans after all, just not in the way he claimed. And I certainly did not threaten anyone.

"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".

Greek-Russian businessman Savvidis apologized for his actions Tuesday, but the European club association said it was suspending PAOK as a member with immediate effect.

Play in the Greek first division has been suspended over the incident and police in Greece want to discuss the matter with Savvidis, not for being in possession of a gun, for which he has a license, but for the pitch invasion, which is a criminal offence although it carries no prison sentence.

"The 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 association added.

"The suspension remains valid until further notice and shall be reported to the ECA General Assembly in Rome on 27th March 2018".

Games were suspended in all divisions after referee's chief Giorgos Bikas was the victim of an arson attack in November 2016, while investigations into a match-fixing scandal that came to light in 2011 remain ongoing.

Olympiakos boss Oscar Garcia was hit in the head with a roll of toilet paper, forcing the match to be abandoned.

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