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A 22-year-old football supporter has been killed following an altercation between two sets of rival fans in Athens, Greece. The AEK Athens supporter was caught up in a night of chaos between fans of the Greek side and fans of Dinamo Zagreb ahead of the planned Champions League qualifying match between the two sides.
In total, eight other people were seriously injured in the conflict and 98 people have been arrested by Greek police. The fighting between both sets of supporters reportedly broke out around an hour after Dinamo Zagreb had completed a pre-match training session at AEK Athens' stadium, the Nea Filadelfeia stadium.
Flares, stones and other makeshift explosives were reportedly thrown by both groups of supports before a 22-year-old Greek man was stabbed multiple times. The police said that he died in hospital after being transported there following the altercation. In a statement, they said:
“A serious incident took place outside the Nea Filadelfeia stadium. A young Greek man was stabbed to death and six other injured people are in hospital.
AEK Athens vs Dinamo Zagreb latest: UEFA postpone the match
In light of the incident, UEFA has announced the postponement of the scheduled match between AEK Athen and Dinamo Zagreb. In a statement, European football's governing body said:
“UEFA deplores in the strongest possible terms the appalling incidents that took place in Athens last night and resulted in the loss of life.
“While expressing our deepest sympathy to the family of the victim, to AEK Athens FC and its fans, we would like to reiterate that violence has no place in our sport and we expect that those responsible for this terrible act be arrested and consigned to justice in the shortest delay.”
Dinamo Zagreb have also released a statement since the incident. It read:
“GNK Dinamo strongly condemns the riots that took place last night in Athens, in which, according to the reports of the Greek police and Greek and Croatian media, rioters from Croatia were involved in an incident with fans of the Greek football club AEK.
“Riots not only threaten the safety of everyone present but also damage football's reputation as a sport that unites people and cultures. We express our deep concern over this incident. Unfortunately, one person lost his life during the riots. GNK Dinamo would like to express its sincere condolences to the family of the deceased.”
The match is likely to be rescheduled for Friday 18th August or Saturday 19th August, meaning it will take place after the game in Zagreb, which was originally due to be the first leg.
Greek government under pressure to reduce fan violence
The incident in Athens last night follows a worrying trend of increased football-related violence at Stadia in Greece. Following a series of fights last year, the Greek government increased the maximum sentence for fan violence from six months to five years.
This change came after a 19-year-old was killed in February 2022 during a fight between fans of Aris Thessaloniki and PAOK. Seven people have since been found guilty of the 19-year-old's murder and sentenced to life in prison, while five other people received sentences of more than 19 years for being complicit in the murder.
This latest football-related death is sure to put more pressure on the Greek government and footballing authorities to come up with new ways to put an end to it once and for all.