Watch: Greek owner attempts to confront referee while armed with a gun

The owner of a leading Greek football club led a pitch invasion to confront a referee while apparently armed with a gun, writes Stephen Barry.

Ivan Savvidis, a Russian oligarch and former member of parliament with Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party, marched onto the pitch after his side, PAOK, seemed to have a last-minute Fernando Varela goal disallowed for offside.

Savvidis, who was a sergeant major in the Soviet Army, was restrained by bodyguards as he came close to the referee.

He did not appear to remove the weapon from his hip holster.

PAOK owner, businessman Ivan Savvidis invades into the pitch during a Greek League soccer match between PAOK and AEK Athens in the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki. InTime Sports via AP

Sunday’s Greek Superleague game at the Toumba Stadium against league leaders AEK Athens was locked at 0-0 in stoppage time when the incident occurred.

It was later abandoned by the referee amid confusion and reports that he had, hours later, decided to allow the goal for a 1-0 PAOK win.

PAOK owner, businessman Ivan Savvidis, second right, approaches AEK Athens’ Manager Operation Department Vassilis Dimitriadis, second left, as his bodyguard and PAOK’s player Fernando Varela, centre, try to stop him. AP Photo

PAOK have said president Savvidis is “preparing to take all necessary steps to protect the club and all his executives and associates from the threats and attacks they are suffering.”

Last month, PAOK’s league game with Olympiacos was abandoned before a ball was kicked.

Olympiacos coach Oscar Garcia, the former Brighton and Watford boss, was hit by an object thrown from the crowd, which was reported to be a toilet roll.

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