Greek club PAOK Salonika president apologises after coming on pitch with gun

PAOK Salonika president invades pitch
Savvidis entered the pitch after Fernando Varela's goal was ruled out for offside

The president of Greek club PAOK Salonika has apologised after he came on to the pitch with a gun during his side's match on Sunday.

Ivan Savvidis had a gun in a holster when he entered the field after PAOK had a late goal ruled out for offside.

The Greek Superleague has been suspended and the European Club Association (ECA) has suspended PAOK.

"I am very sorry. I clearly had no right to enter the field of play in this fashion," said Savvidis.

The Greek football federation said Savvidis had been charged with a series of football code violations, including making threats, which carry a fine and a potential stadium ban of up to five years.

The Superleague's disciplinary body will now be responsible for any further action.

PAOK could also be punished with a points deduction which could put them out of the running for the title, which they were competing for before Sunday's match.

The charges were announced minutes before Herbert Hubel, who heads a monitoring committee set up by Fifa, warned Greece of a potential football 'Grexit'.

"What happened in Greek football, to be very polite, is unacceptable," said Hubel, adding his report to Fifa and Uefa would not be positive.

"The word Grexit is no more impossible. Greek football is going to an edge."

Savvidis asked his team to leave the pitch after PAOK had a goal ruled out in the 89th minute against AEK Athens and then marched towards the referee with two bodyguards before being pulled back.

The executive board of the ECA, which represents European clubs, "unanimously decided" to suspend PAOK with immediate effect.

Savvidis - Why I did it

Greek football has been marred by crowd trouble in recent seasons and PAOK were deducted three points - but managed to overturn the sanction on appeal - after Olympiakos coach Oscar Garcia was hit by a toilet roll thrown from the stands at PAOK in February.

Savvidis has claimed his reaction stemmed from the "widespread negative situations" in Greek football, the actions of the referee and his assistant, match suspension, the protests and the invasion of the pitch by "many people on both sides".

"My only aim was to protect tens of thousands of PAOK fans from provocation, riots and human casualties," Savvidis added.

"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."

Savvidis, one of Greece's richest men, was born in Georgia of Greek heritage and is a former member of the Russian parliament.

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