A highly charged Athens Derby on Saturday night between arch-rivals Olympiakos and Panathinaikos, ended in scenes of players being attacked by fans and has led to calls for the Greek FA to take action against racism.
Olympiakos fans charged onto the pitch at the final whistle as Panathinaikos players were attacked. About a dozen fans went after Djibril Cisse and three other players.
The Frenchman later made it clear he will not tolerate racism. “I was their target. Some of them hit me and I retaliated to defend myself,” he said. “It’s a disgrace. I’m not going to let things lie.
“This summer I’m leaving, that’s for sure. It’s impossible for me here. Even though the Pana fans are fantastic, even though the club is great, I don’t want to play in this league anymore.”
‘Victim of monkey chants’
He added: “This season the atmosphere in the stands has got worse. Twice already, I have been the victim of monkey chants, of racist insults. It was the same thing again on Saturday night.
“They managed to get inflatable bananas into the stadium that they were shaking around every time I touched the ball.”
Panathinaikos officials were furious at referee Dimitris Kalopoulos. “They (the Olympiakos fans) hit four of our players, specifically (Cedric) Kante, (Josu) Sarriegi, (Sotiris) Ninis and Cisse. The authorities will be inexcusable if they do not slap Olympiakos with a heavy penalty,” Panathinaikos vice-president Dimitris Gontikas said.
The referee had to pause the game for four minutes as fans lit flares in the stands, causing smoke to billow across the pitch, and when the action resumed, Olympiakos had Vasilis Torossidis sent off for shoving Argentinian Sebastian Leto.
Leto, a former Olympiakos player who moved to Panathinaikos in 2009, was the main target of the home fans' ire during the game.
Yvette Jarvis vice- Chair of the FARE Network board said: “This season we have seen increased levels of racism and xenophobia in Greece. It is a situation we urgently need to tackle before Greek football is tarnished, and a great player like Djibril Cisse leaves the country because of racialised violence.
‘Football should be a means of uniting’
“We call on the HFF [Greek FA], and the Superleague with whom we have had a good co-operation in the past, to act immediately to address this dangerous situation.
“They must work with us and other progressive voices to ensure that challenges are made, educational measures undertaken and a sense of tolerance is reinstated. We have many problems in Greece, sport should be a means of uniting us, not a focus of division.”
Media reports also suggested that a group of Panathinaikos players, upset by Torossidis' treatment of Leto during the game, tried to confront the player afterwards in the Olympiakos locker room, but instead ended up in a heated exchange with Olympiakos president Vangelis Marinakis.
About 400 Panathinaikos fans gathered outside Panathinaikos' training facilities east of Athens and gave the players a standing ovation. They pleaded with Cisse to reconsider his decision.
“It's a shame, a great shame,” Panathinaikos midfielder Gilberto Silva said, a Brazilian national team member, who is expected to return to his homeland after this season.