Players' union demands protection for Greeks

Topics

BERNE, March 11 (Reuters) - The International Players' Union (FIFPro) has called on Greek authorities to protect players from fan violence, describing the situation as unacceptable and an infringement of EU rules on workplace safety.

A planned strike by Greek players broke down on Thursday and FIFPro said it would complain to FIFA and UEFA, the respective governing bodies for world and European football, about footballers' exposure to violence.

"The union fully supports the professional footballers in Greece who have suffered numerous serious violent spectator incidents," FIFPro said in a statement on Friday. "This situation is unacceptable.

"FIFPro is utterly devastated neither the Greek Football Federation nor the Super League responded to the demands of the players who had requested the necessary measures be taken to guarantee their safety on and off the pitch.

"The Greek Federation as well as the leagues and the clubs are obliged to secure the safety of our professional footballers inside and outside the stadium," the union added.

"According to EU law every worker is entitled to a safe and healthy workplace. An employer is obliged to secure the safety of all employees."

The Greek players' union PSAP announced its intention to strike on Tuesday in response to growing crowd violence and had support from 10 of the 16 Super League clubs.

However, PSAP said on Thursday it was unable to call a strike because Panionios, Asteras Tripolis, Ethnikos Olympiakos Volos, Kerkyra, Kavala and Ergotelis decided not to take part.

SUPPORTER BANS

Violence inside and outside stadiums has been a constant problem for Greek authorities this season.

League leaders Olympiakos Pireaus and second-placed Panathinaikos have received supporter bans after ugly pitch invasions involving battles with police and attacks on players.

The country was left shocked on February 19 when hundreds of fans invaded the pitch following Olympiakos's tempestuous 2-1 win over Panathinaikos.

Olympiakos supporters threw punches and kicks at the visiting players and battled with police in what was the fourth pitch invasion in Greece this season.

Attacks by supporters on the Super League offices and the home of Olympiakos player Vasilis Torosidis followed.

FIFPro called for the government to get involved in the issue.

"The same (EU) legislation urges national governments to create a safe environment for all workers within their territory. This means there is also a need to intervene for the Greek government in this delicate matter," the union said.

"Professional players have to be protected against any violent incidents and illegal actions which may take place on the football pitch... in Western Europe the necessary measures were taken a long time ago."