Russian officials investigating ‘attack’ on journalists by Greek football fans

Russian officials investigating ‘attack’ on journalists by Greek football fans
Russia’s General Consulate in the Greek city of Thessaloniki is looking into reports of an attack by fans of local football club PAOK on Russian journalists ahead of a Champions League qualifying game.

Local fans were said to have confronted Russian reporters in the press sector at Toumba Stadium ahead of the game between PAOK and Spartak Moscow, before being forced back by stewards and police.

READ MORE: Greek football fans ‘attack Russian journalists’ ahead of Champions League game

The Russian General Consulate in the city confirmed on Thursday that it was investigating the reports and that it was in contact with the local authorities.

A statement on the consulate’s Facebook page said it currently had no information on “the violation of rights of Russian citizens,” but that it was “checking information about the attack on Russian journalists ahead of the match.”

The Greek club earlier issued a statement confirming that a “minor” incident had taken place, but said a Russian journalist had provoked fans by making a gesture toward them.

PAOK won the game 3-2, coming from 2-0 down in the first half. Spartak striker Quincy Promes missed a second-half penalty, although he reportedly had a laser shone into his face by fans when running up to take the spot-kick.  

Spartak fans had been banned by UEFA from attending the game in Greece, after clashes with supporters of Spanish club Athletic Bilbao in the pair's Europa League last 16 game last season.

Around 200 Russian fans had reportedly traveled to the game and some were said to have attempted to buy tickets.

Social media users also claimed there were attacks on fans by Greek hooligans ahead of the match, while the Spartak team bus was also reportedly targeted.

Toumba Stadium is known as a particularly hostile place for visiting teams and fans.

In March, club president Ivan Savvidis was banned from all football stadiums for three years after he stormed the pitch armed with a gun to confront a match official.

READ MORE: Gun-toting Greek football president handed 3-year ban for armed pitch invasion

Wednesday’s result hands the Greek team a slender lead heading into next week’s second leg in Moscow.