West Ham fans travelling to Greece for Thursday’s Europa League match at Olympiacos will be wrapped in a protective police cocoon — after their opponents’ latest home game was abandoned when a visiting player was hit by a firecracker.
West Ham supporters are being warned they can only get to Olympiacos’s Karaiskakis Stadium via a compulsory coach convoy — complete with a police escort — meeting at the Panathenaic Stadium more than three hours before kick-off. Police in Athens say these protocols are in place for their own safety and have warned that anyone who does not use the coaches risks being turned away from the arena. Supporters are also set to be subjected to rigorous body searches and locked inside the away end for 30 minutes after full-time, before being returned to the Panathenaic Stadium via their appointed transport. In what could be a problematic move, UEFA have allowed
Olympiacos and Panathinaikos to both play at home in the Europa League on Thursday, with the latter hosting Rennes, approximately seven miles away. It means fans of four different football teams will descend on Athens this week. West Ham are also aware of the possibility of laser pointers being directed at their players. Greek supporters were accused of shining lights at opponents during last week’s 1-0 loss to the Netherlands at the OPAP Arena in Athens.
Olympiacos and Panathinaikos were drawing 1-1 in their Greek Super League clash last Sunday night when the game was halted at the Georgios Karaiskakis Stadium. With the game poised at 1-1, away defender Juankar was struck by a firecracker allegedly thrown onto the pitch by home Olympiacos fans. The Spanish left-back collapsed on the floor before the medical cart arrived. He was then taken to the hospital as players from both sides headed for the dressing rooms. Fans remained in the ground with the expectation that play would eventually restart. However, after a delay of more than 60 minutes, it emerged that Panathinaikos players were refusing to step back onto the field, and the game was abandoned.