The state of refereeing has been a big issue in all sports all around the world. Around the NFL, there has been an argument to make referees full-time to hopefully limit mistakes. In Greece, a soccer fan in the Greek Superleague went way too far.
The Greek Superleague and subsequent cup competitions have been suspended due to repeated fan violence toward officials. The latest, a fan set the house of EPO referee head Giorgos Bikas on fire. Thankfully Bikas and his family were not home and weren’t injured but the house “suffered major damage.”
The fire, along with a situation where two fans threatened committee member Giorgos Tsachilidis at his home prompted the suspension until things settle down. This doesn’t affect the Greek National Team who lost 1-0 in a friendly against Belarus Wednesday and play a World Cup Qualifier against Bosnia-Herzegovina Sunday. It also will not affect teams who are playing in the UEFA Europa League.
While this hurts club teams throughout Greece, teams are supporting the suspension to hopefully lower violence. Panathinaikos executive Christos Panagopoulos is willing to go without league soccer for years until the problem is completely solved.
“We simply cannot sit and watch houses of people being burned to the ground and talk about football. Even if the courts decide in 2020 (on the probe into the criminal group), let’s wait and start the championship again then,” he said.
There clearly is no argument for acts like this. At least in the NFL, people are upset and may get a bit personal in berating a referee but at least we haven’t seen a referee’s house burnt down because of a bad call. Hopefully it never gets that far.