The president of PAOK FC, Ivan Savvidis, entered the field at a top league match his soccer team was playing against AEK FC, with what appeared to be a pistol visible on his belt.
The PAOK owner followed by his security guards entered the field when the referee cancelled a PAOK goal in the 89th minute of the game as offside. Savvidis made gestures asking for his players to leave the pitch. Then he moved towards the referee but his boduguards stopped him. Then he turned towards AEK players but his security men held him back.
While the most logical explanation is that Savvidis has a gun-carrying permit, the image of the pistol on his belt and his angry move towards the referee has caused a storm in the Greek League.
AEK Athens players dashed back into the lockers while PAOK players remained staunchly on the pitch arguing.
The image of the PAOK owner appearing to invade a soccer field has angered sports fans in Greece and has overtaken public discourse with the Greek government seriously thinking to cancel all future Greek League games.
Another picture of PAOK Sports Director Lubos Michel pushing violently away a reporter who tried to get a statement from the referee was also criticized by sports media.
For the record the referee later reinstated the goal and the PAOK-AEK match ended 1-0. However, since the game was interrupted by Savvidis’ invasion in the pitch, the result is not official and the fate of the game will be decided in the court of the Hellenic Football Federation (EPO).
This will be the second consecutive home game for PAOK marred by violent incidents. On February 25, the PAOK-Olympiacos FC game never started as a cash register ribbon hit Olympiacos coach Oscar Garcia in the face before kickoff. PAOK was punished by losing the game in court, which gave Olympiacos the three points.
Ivan Savvidis, of Pontian origin, was born in Russia where he also made his fortune. He bought PAOK FC in 2012 and last year the Team won the Greek cup.