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PAOK ultras protest train crash outside European Parliament

We love football for all sorts of reasons. On the pitch, it has the power to give us some of the best days of our lives. But off it, it can sometimes be even more important.

That’s because football has the power to help shed light on the things we think are important. You might not have heard of last year’s train crash in Greece, but you’re reading about it right now on a football website.

On Thursday, fans of the Greek club PAOK took the chance to call for justice for the victims of that train crash.

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PAOK fans during a Europa Conference League game against HJK Helsinki in December 2023. Photo by Icon Sport

What were the PAOK ultras protesting?

Ahead of PAOK’s Europa Conference League quarter-final first leg at Club Brugge, dozens or maybe even hundreds of ultras stopped off in Brussels to protest in front of the European Parliament.

Their banner – which read “57 murdered souls ask for justice” – was in relation to the deadliest train crash in Greece’s history, which occurred in February 2023 when a passenger train collided head-on with a freight train.

The incident shook the country, and has provoked criticism of the government’s handling of the investigation. Despite apparent failings in the infrastructure which allowed this to happen, no politicians have been investigated for their part in the disaster.

Last month the Greek government survived a no-confidence vote from the opposition, but it is clear from the PAOK ultras protests that the story is not over yet.

PAOK’s game at Club Brugge

It seems insignificant in the context, but PAOK will play at Club Brugge this evening in what will likely be a hotly-contested Europa Conference League tie.

It is the first time the Greek side have reached the quarter-finals of a European competition since 2021-22, when they were knocked out by Marseille.

As for Club Brugge, the Belgian side have not got to the quarter-finals in Europe since 2014-15, when they were beaten by FC Dnipro in the Europa League.


Jamie Barton

A freelance football writer and podcaster, Jamie has appeared on/in the BBC World Service, PA Media, Charlton Athletic FC and Empire of the Kop, among others. He's attended matches all around the world, from Tranmere to Tokyo, and once had his bus home from the 2022 Champions League final in Paris delayed by 28 hours.

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