Ivan Savvidis Greek club owner challenges referee with a gun

Posted March 13, 2018

Ivan Savvidis stormed the field as PAOK was playing AEK Athens in Thessaloniki, in northern Greece, after a referee disallowed a goal from Fernando Varela, a central defender for PAOK. "We made a decision to discontinue the championship".

"Images of team owners invading the pitch armed are setting back soccer for years", Deputy Culture Minister for Sports Giorgos Vasileiadis said in a statement after the game.

PAOK defender Fernando Varela seemed to have given the home side a last-gasp victor at the Toumba Stadium, with a 90th-minute header, only for the goal to be disallowed after a short delay by the referee on the night. As a result Sunday's decisive Super League contest against leaders AEK Athens will take place in front of spectators.

Kominos will reportedly send a match report to the Greek Football Federation, which will decide whether to penalize teams or individuals involved in the incident.

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Despite the firearm, PAOK Salonika was eventually declared the victor of the match two hours after the suspension when the referee reversed his decision.

Savvidis, a Georgian-born businessman of Greek ancestry and a former member of the Russian parliament, has holdings in Thessaloniki port, the tobacco industry and media companies.

The weird incident took place last night after PAOK's tense 0-0 draw with AEK Athens, which saw PAOK denied a late victor when the officials cancelled out a seemingly good goal.

Skai TV reported on Monday morning that a prosecutor has launhced an investigation on Sunday night over Savvidis' entrance onto the pitch with a gun in a hip holster.

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PAOK were initially docked three points, but managed to overturn the decision on appeal.

Although he did not remove anything from the holster, the 58-year-old had to be restrained while confronting referee Giorgios Kominis.

Spare a thought, though, for Greek football club PAOK chairman Ivan Savvidis, who is seemingly unconcerned by any of that.

In a rare step, the USA embassy in Athens later expressed concern over the issue, suggesting a lack of transparency over the funding behind the deal.

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