In a shocking turn of events, the Champions League qualifier between AEK Athens and Dinamo Zagreb was postponed due to a fatal incident involving rival fans.
A Night of Violence in Athens
After winning their first Greek league title in five years, AEK Athens were scheduled to meet Dinamo Zagreb in a Champions League qualifier. However, the game was quickly called off after a 29-year-old Greek fan was tragically killed during fights between followers of both teams. The incident happened outside AEK’s Agia Sophia Stadium in Athens, and the fan was allegedly stabbed multiple times.
Eight more spectators were injured in the aftermath of the brawl, with one child being hit in the head by a rock. Greek police arrived quickly, arresting 98 people involved in the fight. After about 100-120 Dinamo Zagreb fans arrived at the stadium, they clashed with AEK supporters. According to witnesses, fans on both sides threw fireworks, homemade explosives, and stones at each other.
Football Community Reacts
The governing body of football in Europe, UEFA, offered its heartfelt sympathies and condemned the brutal incident. “UEFA deplores in the strongest possible terms the appalling incidents that occurred in Athens last night and resulted in the loss of a life,” they pointed out in a statement. They also highlighted that violence has no place in sports and demanded that the perpetrators be brought to justice as soon as possible.
Both clubs also expressed their grief and condemnation of the incident. AEK Athens players were seen paying tribute to the deceased fan with flowers, while Dinamo Zagreb players noticed departing their hotel under tight protection. “Such events are not in line with the values and ethics we promote as a club and community,” Dinamo Zagreb said in a statement. GNK Dinamo would like to express its sincere condolences to the family of the deceased.”
This incident highlights the persistent problem of hooliganism in Greek football. Just last year, the government increased the maximum sentence for fan violence-related crimes from six months to five years following another fatal stabbing incident.
The return leg of the match is scheduled to take place in Croatia on 15 August, with the postponed game in Athens now set for 19 August. The football community worldwide hopes for a peaceful resolution and a return to the spirit of the game.