Greek police arrest dozens in crackdown on soccer violence

Greek police have raided multiple homes in Athens and detained dozens of suspects in a crackdown on soccer violence that led to the death of a police officer in December. Police officer Giorgos Lyggeridis, 31, died on Dec. 27 after being hit by a flare during violence between rival fans at a volleyball game in Athens. Greek police chief Dimitris Mallios said 60 people were arrested by Monday afternoon, in an operation that started late Sunday. Mallios said the arrests followed investigations carried out under “high secrecy” over the past four months that confirmed links between sports violence and organized crime. “Evidence emerged about a criminal organization, consisting of 158 people, that since 2019 at least carried out criminal acts” in the greater Athens region and the cities of Volos and Ioannina to the north, Mallios said. He added 58 homes and 15 vehicles were searched in the crackdown, and seized items included handguns, knives, drugs and wooden clubs. “We have an absolute commitment to fight sports violence,” the police chief said. Fans often choose lightly policed events in other sports to confront rivals. After the police officer’s death, fans were banned from attending all top-flight soccer games for two months while security measures were overhauled. Match attendees must now carry a government-issued QR code on their mobile phone to gain stadium access.