PAOK-ing heat: Ivan Savvidis was armed and flanked by bodyguards when he walked onto the pitch
By talkSPORT – @talkSPORT
Tuesday, March 13, 2018
PAOK Salonika president Ivan Savvidis says he is “deeply sorry” for his role in the chaotic scenes that led to the game against AEK Athens being abandoned on Sunday.
Savvidis marched on to the pitch, following a disallowed PAOK goal in the 89th minute, and images showed him carrying a gun in a hip holster.
READ MORE: Gun-wielding PAOK owner confronts referee in chaotic scenes in Greek Super League
As a result Greece’s Superleague, which has been blighted by crowd trouble in recent times, has been indefinitely suspended by the country’s government.
“I wish to apologise to all PAOK supporters, Greek fans and the international football community,” Savvidis said in a statement on PAOK’s website.
“I am deeply sorry for what happened. I had absolutely no right to enter the pitch the way I did.
“My emotional reaction stems from the widespread negative situations prevailing in Greek football lately and from all the unacceptable, non sports-related events that took place towards the end of the PAOK-AEK Athens encounter: the actions of the referee and his assistant, the match suspension, the protests and invasion on the pitch by many people from both sides.
“All that could lead to uncontrollable situations. My only aim was to protect tens of thousands of PAOK fans from provocation, riots and human casualties.
“Please believe that I had no intention to engage in a brawl with our opponents or the referees. And? Obviously did not threaten anybody.
“Unfortunately, my family and I, as well as my colleagues, have been taken hostage by a totally sick football status-quo.
“Despite the non-stop attacks I am facing on all fronts, I fight and I will continue to fight for fair football, equitable refereeing in all encounters and titles being won on the pitch and not in courtrooms.
“I would like to apologise once again.”