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PAOK President gets 3-year ban for gun incident

Club PAOK Salonika’s president Ivan Savvidis has been banned from all football stadiums for three years for storming onto the pitch with a gun during a league game.

The Greek league’s disciplinary committee, which made the statement, also said on Thursday that the club was stripped of three points, thereby ending their title chances.

Savvidis, a Georgia-born businessman and former Russian state Duma deputy, charged onto the pitch with a gun in his belt.

His action was as a result of a PAOK disallowed goal in a match against fellow title contenders AEK Athens on March 11.

The game was interrupted and the incident prompted an immediate suspension of the league by the Greek government.

The world football governing body, FIFA, considers possible action against Greece over repeated crowd trouble and violence in the stadiums.

The government lifted the ban on Tuesday with Super league matches set to resume over the weekend.

Savvidis was also fined 100,000 euros (87,539 pounds) and the club, fined an additional 63,000 euros, and must play three matches behind closed doors.

PAOK sports director Lubos Michel, a former international referee, was banned for 90 days and fined 15,000 euros after also entering the pitch and complaining to the referee.

The disciplinary committee awarded the game to AEK Athens and stripped two points from PAOK from next season’s championship.

PAOK said they would appeal.

“The sanction is harsh and was delivered under the pressure of a coordinated media storm against PAOK,” the club said in a statement.

“We are proceeding with an appeal and wait to be judged on real facts.”

FIFA has warned Greece to clean up football or risk a possible international ban.

“The word Grexit is no more impossible. Greek football is going to an edge,” Herbert Huebel, head of a FIFA monitoring committee for Greek football, said earlier this month.

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