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UEFA postpones AEK Athens-Dinamo Zagreb match after fatal stabbing

A Greek football fan was stabbed to death on the outskirts of Athens during a brawl between rival club supporters, with 96 people arrested in violent clashes, police said Tuesday.

The 22-year-old man was transported from the stadium in the suburbs to an Athens hospital where he died, police said.

The fight between fans broke out Monday evening and the tragic outcome has led to UEFA postponing the Champions League qualifying third round first leg match between hosts AEK Athens and Croatian club Dinamo Zagreb. 

“A serious incident took place outside the Nea Filadelfeia stadium,” Greek police said. 

“A young Greek man was stabbed to death and six other injured people are in hospital.” 

At least eight people have been injured, including three Greeks and five Croats.

Those injured include a minor who was hospitalised after being hit in the head by a stone, according to public television channel ERT.

UEFA deplored “in the strongest possible terms the appalling incidents” and expressed their sympathy to the victim’s family. 

“Following yesterday’s violence and in consultation with the local authorities, UEFA has decided that the conditions for the match between AEK Athens FC and GNK Dinamo to go ahead tonight are not met,” UEFA said in a statement.

“The match planned to be played tonight at Agia Sofia Stadium in Athens is hereby postponed.”

UEFA, though, said the second leg due to be played in Zagreb next Tuesday would go ahead while an alternative date will be found for the postponed match—August 18 or 19 being the suggested possiblities.

‘Preventative measures’

The ministry of citizen protection said a group of fans from both sides clashed in the area near the stadium, throwing stun grenades, stones, incendiary devices and other items, with some carrying bats.

It said the violence started about an hour and a half after the visiting team had completed training, and left the pitch under police escort.

Greek news agency ANA said an investigation had been opened and those arrested would appear before the state prosecutor on Tuesday.

Dinamo Zagreb’s board of directors condemned the violence. 

“We recall that UEFA took the decision, along with the police, that the two matches would take place without the supporters of the away club attending,” they said.

“We urge Dinamo supporters not to travel to Greece.”

Greece’s left-wing opposition party Syriza criticised the police, saying they failed to control Dinamo supporters.

“The Croatian hooligans, who have a long history of links with the far right and violent attacks, crossed the country with one thing in mind — to cause trouble,” Syriza said. 

“Were they kept under surveillance by the Greek authorities? Were any preventative measures put in place along their route?” 

Violence has marred a number of previous Greek football matches, and last year the government increased the maximum sentence for crimes of fan violence from six months to five years after another stabbing death.

Alkis Kampanos, 19, was killed in February 2022 in the northern city of Thessaloniki during a fight between supporters of the city’s rival clubs Aris Thessaloniki and PAOK. 

Last month, seven defendants were found guilty of his murder and sentenced to life imprisonment.

Five others received sentences of more than 19 years for complicity. 

It was the third death as a result of fan violence in a three-year period in Thessaloniki alone.

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