Greek Police on Heightened Alert for Saturday’s Cup Final



Greek police are on high alert for Saturday’s Cup final between league champions AEK and PAOK that will take place in Athens Olympic Stadium as thousands of PAOK fans are preparing to descend upon the capital from Thessaloniki.

On Thursday evening police intervened in central Athens to prevent clashes between hooligans from both sides.

Security forces are concerned that trouble may break out as an estimated 20,000 PAOK supporters will travel by bus and in cars.

According to police intelligence sources, hooligans are preparing to engage in pitch battles before and after the game.

In May 2017, AEK and PAOK hooligans clashed at the central Greek city of Volos prior to the cup final between the two sides that the Thessaloniki club won by a controversial refereeing decision.

Rival fans clashed in 2017 in Volos

Spanish referee

Meanwhile, the Greek Football Federation has taken the unusual step of appointing a Spanish referee for Saturday’s clash.

The federation announced on Thursday that 44-year-old David Borbalan would take charge of Saturday’s game, with two Spanish assistant referees.

A league match between the two teams in March was abandoned after a controversial refereeing decision which prompted the president of PAOK to charge onto the pitch with a handgun in his belt.

This led to the suspension of the league for more than two weeks and a warning from world soccer’s governing body to reform immediately or risk being banned internationally.

PAOK and its president were subsequently also sanctioned and the team had points deducted, ending their title hopes.