Suspended 25-month prison sentence imposed on owner of PAOK FC Savvidis
A first instance court in the northern Greece city of Thessaloniki on Thursday handed down a 25-month prison sentence – suspended for three years, however – to the president of the PAOK Thessaloniki professional football club, Ivan Savvidis.
The court earlier found the Russian-Greek businessman guilty of violently rushing the pitch during a Greek Super League derby between his team and AEK Athens on March 11, 2018. Conversely, the fact that he was shown in possession of a handgun – tucked in a holster attached to his belt – and the risk of causing bodily harm was not factored into the verdict and sentence, according to the site voria.gr
A 10-month suspended sentence was also handed down to PAOK’s sports director at the time, Luboš Michel.
Another six defendants, all reportedly Savvidis’ bodyguards, were acquitted.
Another provision of the sentence forbids both men from attending PAOK games for three years, and with an additional obligation to appear at a local police precinct on the day such games are scheduled.
However, this prohibition was also suspended until an appeal is adjudicated.
Earlier, during her closing argument, the court bench’s prosecutor recommended that Savvidis be found guilty, as evidence clearly showed that the owner of the “Double-Headed Eagle” team of northern Greece had no right to enter the playing field, accompanied by six members of his personal security detail.
“He reacts and protests against a referee’s call, as did the team’s fans at that moment. Regarding his initial claim, that he acted in such a manner because he would have suppressed the tension (in the stadium) at the given moment, this cannot be accepted. His behavior, due to his position, is unacceptable. He bears great responsibility, as the team’s fans consider as him as a role model and follow his every move,” the prosecutor opined, adding:
“He had not right to enter the playing field. It appears he wanted to protest (the call). Members of his personal security detail and PAOK players tried to prevent him. He had no right to take a weapon onto the playing field.”
The prosecutor noted that if Ivan Savvidis had intended, with his pitch invasion, to dampen tension, he did not succeed. And the result was the opposite of what he considered would happen.
“There was no reason for him to do this, as the result was the opposite; more tension was created. This, in tandem with the weapon he had in his possession, placed the safe conduct of the game into peril.”
The prosecutor’s recommendation vis-a-vis Savvidis was also critical in regards to his gun possession license, as she stated that “…this also cannot in any way be accepted, namely, to bring a weapon onto the playing field. The defendant, due to his position and the high level of security that he enjoys, would not need a weapon to protect himself.”