ATHENS — Greece will allow its top league soccer matches to be played with fans from Feb. 13, two months after top clubs were ordered to play behind closed doors following the severe injuring and death of a police officer in violence during a volleyball match.
In Greece, fights between football fans and clubs are frequent on and off the pitch before or after a game and the government has been trying for years to reform soccer plagued by criminal gangs and a minority of violent fans.
A 31-year-old police officer died in December, days after he was critically injured by a flare in violent clashes that broke out in December, during a volleyball match hosted by Olympiacos in Piraeus.
The government said on Wednesday that fans will be able to attend Greek Super League 1 matches once again from Feb. 13 but rules will be stricter.
If there is violence during a match, a committee will impose heavy fines and order clubs to play the following match in their fixture with no fans, Deputy Sports Minister Yiannis Vroutsis told reporters.
"In case a dangerous object falls on the pitch, the pitch will close for the next fixture," Vroutsis said. "It's the state's duty to safeguard security."
From next month, soccer and basketball clubs will need to have surveillance cameras installed at pitches and courts to be able to have fans at their matches, Vroutsis said.
Starting from April 9, fans will also need to identify themselves via a Greek government mobile phone application at the entrance of the sports venue to attend a match, the government said.
(Reporting by Angeliki Koutantou, Editing by Christian Radnedge)