Gun-toting Greek football tycoon Ivan Savvidis says sorry for pitch invasion

PAOK owner Ivan Savvidis claims he did not threaten anyone as he issues grovelling apology for storming pitch with gun

PAOK owner says sorry

In a brief statement, the Greek football federation said Savvides had been charged with a series of football code violations, including making threats, which carry a fine and a potential stadium ban of up to five years.

PAOK owner, businessman Ivan Savvidis, second from left, approaches AEK Athens' Manager Operation Department Vassilis Dimitriadis, center, as his bodyguard and PAOK's players Fernando Varela, second from right, and Djalma Campos, right, try to stop him during a Greek League soccer match between PAOK and AEK Athens in the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki, Sunday, March 11.

A public prosecutor ordered a judicial investigation into the incident. I am very sorry for what happened.

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Ivan Savvidis, who has been in hiding since an arrest warrant was issued, released a statement on the website of his club PAOK saying he had been "emotional" and that his actions had been meant to "protect tens of thousands of PAOK fans from provocations and clashes".

"My emotional reaction stems from the widespread negative situations prevailing in Greek football lately and from all the unacceptable, non-sports related events that took place towards the end of the PAOK - AEK Athens encounter: the actions of the referee and his assistant (goal - offside - goal), the match suspension, the protests and invasion on the pitch by many people from both sides". My only aim was to protect tens of thousands of PAOK fans from provocation, riots and casualties.

"I would like to apologise once again". So maybe Savvidis is protecting PAOK fans after all, just not in the way he claimed. Please believe I had no intention to engage in a brawl with our opponents or the referees.

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Savvidis' behavior provoked PAOK's suspension Tuesday from the 230-member group of Europe's most influential clubs.

"I am struggling and will continue to strive, despite the constant attacks I take at all levels, for a fair football with honest arbitration in all the races and for winning the championships on the courts rather than in the courts".

The ECA, which represents European football clubs, suspended the Greeks indefinitely.

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The team finished fifth past year , winning seven out of their 14 matches, but couldn't qualify for the knockouts. But I think it is also a responsibility.

"The suspension remains valid until further notice and shall be reported to the ECA General Assembly in Rome on 27th March 2018".

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