Dramatic images showing the owner of PAOK FC striding onto the pitch at Toumba Stadium Sunday night with what looked like a holstered firearm have gone around the world, sparking a media feeding frenzy.
Greek football rarely makes it to the sports pages of foreign newspapers but the brewing chaos at the heart of the Super League has proved to be catnip for reporters and editors alike.
The drama began with initial reports police were seeking PAOK owner Ivan Savvidis who appeared to walk onto the pitch armed with a handgun amid chaotic scenes towards the end of Sunday night’s abandoned clash with AEK.
Since then, the anarchy raging in Greek football has gone international.
The normally staid Washington Post has joined the feeding frenzy with the headline: “Owner of a Greek soccer team loses his mind, threatens referee with a gun on the field.”
Business magazine Forbes also delved in with: “Gun-Carrying Owner Confronts Referee; Just Another Bizarre Occurrence In Crisis Plagued Greek League.”
As well as major international newswires like Reuters and AFP covering the story, media outlets far removed from Greek news also joined in. Nigeria’s Vanguard newspaper ran the headline: “PAOK owner wanted by Greek police for invading pitch carrying a gun.”
Even Turkish-Greek tensions were overshadowed – for a moment – as Turkish daily Hurriyet covered the story with the headline: “Greece suspends league after football boss takes gun onto pitch.”
Media in the U.S. and U.K. also ran the story with accompanying photos of the apparently-armed Savvidis striding onto the pitch in Thessaloniki.
Now the Greek government has suspended the Super League, throwing the sport into further turmoil.