Greek police have issued a warrant for the arrest of PAOK owner, Greek-Russian businessman Ivan Savvidis, after he stormed the pitch on Sunday (March 11), accompanied by bodyguards, to confront the referee in protest at a 90th-minute disallowed goal in a top-of-the-table football clash against AEK Athens.
A tobacco industrialist with extensive holdings in the northern port city of Thessaloniki, Savvidis controls the city’s top hotel and recently also bought one of Greece’s top newspapers, Ethnos.
The 58-year-old is a former lawmaker with the party of Russian president Vladimir Putin, and is also considered a political ally of Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.
A police source on Monday said Savvidis was not sought over the gun, for which he has a licence, but for the pitch invasion, a misdemeanour that carries no prison term.
Savvidis, who owns companies that are leading sponsors of the Greek league, defended his behaviour.
“Ivan (Savvidis) didn’t threaten anybody with a gun,” his media department told Russia’s Sport Express newspaper.
“It means that the provocative headlines in certain media are totally untrue.
“He carries weapons as he has a permission for it. It’s not prohibited in Greece… Savvidis has allowed himself some excessive emotions but, once again, he didn’t threaten anybody with a gun.”
Last year, Savvidis was part of a Franco-German consortium that won a bid for the privatisation of the Thessaloniki port authority.
But the deal was postponed after a Russian bank backing him was placed under temporary administration.
In a rare step, the US embassy in Athens later expressed concern over the issue, suggesting a lack of transparency over the funding behind the deal.
PAOK Salonika owner Ivan Savvidis enters the pitch, carrying what appears to be a…
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