Controversial Banner Unfurled at Panathinaikos-AEK Athens Derby Sparks Outrage

Controversial Banner Unfurled at Panathinaikos-AEK Athens Derby Sparks Outrage

During Monday’s derby match between Panathinaikos and AEK Athens in Athens, Greece, a 40-meter banner was unfurled by the home ultras group, Gate 13, sparking controversy and outrage. The banner, which read “Free the boys,” referred to the detention of over 100 supporters, including 96 from the Bad Blue Boys group associated with Dinamo Zagreb, in connection with the fatal stabbing of AEK fan Michalis Katsouris in August. The banner’s message was seen as excusing the violence and drew condemnation from AEK players and fans. AEK had previously requested that such a display be stopped.

The incident brought renewed attention to the case, which had shocked the region seven weeks earlier. UEFA had already banned Croatian fans from attending the first leg of the Champions League third qualifying round tie between AEK and Dinamo due to anticipated problems. However, around 200 members of the Bad Blue Boys managed to evade Greek authorities and arrived in Athens with the intention of targeting home supporters. The incident raises questions about the responsibility of football authorities and state entities in addressing far-right violence in football.

This recent incident is part of a broader trend of far-right activity in European stadiums. Piara Powar, executive director of the anti-discrimination Fare Network, has observed far-right activity from fans of clubs and national teams in several countries, including the Netherlands, Spain, France, Ukraine, Poland, Croatia, Bulgaria, Italy, Romania, Slovakia, and Montenegro.

UEFA swiftly responded to the incident by banning Dinamo fans from attending their remaining European away games this season. However, addressing the wider issue of far-right violence in football poses a more significant challenge, as it is a transnational problem influenced by specific local conditions.

Author: CrimeDoor

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