Greek referees refuse to officiate Super League matches over safety concerns

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Greek referees refuse to officiate Super League matches over safety concerns
Fans of Greek club Olympiacos during a Europe League match
Fans of Greek club Olympiacos during a Europe League match
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Greek referees and match officials on Tuesday announced they would not officiate any Super League matches starting from the weekend in protest at what they say are dangerous working conditions.

Greek football has been marred by crowd trouble as well allegations of corruption and match-fixing that have fanned discontent and have seen attendances dwindle.

Referees in Greece are often the target of violent attacks by fans and some have also had their homes and vehicles torched. Last month Athens referee Andreas Gamaris had his shop firebombed.

Only days ago, another referee, Tasos Papapetrou, allegedly received death threats having officiated a Super League game days earlier.

"In the past years Greek and foreign referees... have been a permanent target, a punching bag and a scapegoat in shifting responsibilities," Super League referees said in a letter to the central refereeing committee and the Greek Football Association.

"Announcements that go unpunished, bullying, threats, verbal and physical attacks... are just some of the issues that have made football toxic."

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Club presidents also regularly comment on specific referees, even prior to matches, and in previous seasons the Super League has brought in foreign referees to allow top-division matches to continue.

"As a result, the referees and assistant referees of the first division (Super League) have decided not to officiate any match starting from the 14th matchday (on the weekend) until conditions are appropriate for our own safety."

"With this action, we aim to protect ourselves and our families," the letter said, asking also for a meeting with Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

Greece's Super League could not be immediately reached for a comment.

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