A top-of-the-table clash between PAOK and AEK Athens in Greek’s Superleague was cut short after PAOK owner Ivan Savvidis ran onto the pitch to confront the referee while flanked with two bodyguards and with a holstered revolver on his waist. Here’s video of this peculiar Idiot On The Field incident:
Savvidis’s ire was piqued after PAOK appeared to score a game-winning goal right at the end of the match, only for the referee to subsequently rule the goal out. Upon making his way out to the field of play, Savvidis seems to signal to his players to come off the pitch in protest of the call. Then, he attempts to get in the referee’s face before he is turned away. As Savvidis makes his way off the pitch, he barks at the AEK bench before his bodyguards constrain him and redirect him away from the opposition.
It wasn’t clear during Savvidis’s first pitch invasion that he was armed. That wouldn’t be evident until Savvidis—a Greek-Russian who was born in Georgia, served in the Soviet Army, was once a member of the Russian Parliament, and is reportedly close with Vladimir Putin—removed his jacket. At that point, you could see the gun holstered on his hip.
Here’s what AEK manager Manolo Jiménez told a Spanish radio station about what he saw, from the Telegraph:
“We didn’t know if he had a gun, then we saw it,” AEK’S Jimenez told Cadena SER. “It could be seen that he was moving his hand towards his waist because he had a gun.”
He added: “He threatened the referee right in front of me. According to my interpreter, he told him: ‘You’re finished as a referee’.
“I’m stunned; I don’t understand it. It’s the type of thing you expect to see in a Clint Eastwood movie.”
In light of the ruckus caused by Savvidis with time still on the clock, the referees suspended the match before later deciding to cancel it altogether. While PAOK’s goal was initially ruled out on the field, the referees later upheld it after the match had been canceled. However, the Superleague’s official site lists the match as ending in a 0-0 draw.
As for the fallout, local police have reportedly issued an arrest warrant for Savvidis, not for having a gun but for invading the pitch. In addition, after a meeting between Greece’s minister of sport and the country’s prime minister, authorities have suspended all Superleague play until, as the minister of sport put it, “there is a clear framework, agreed by all, to move forward with conditions and rules.”
Meanwhile, the best solution here is obvious to any sensible person: