Football: Athens derby called off due to violence

ATHENS (AFP) - The Athens derby between Panathinaikos and Olympiakos on Saturday was called off before kick-off because of violence in the Greek capital.

Referee Andreas Pappas made the decision 30 minutes after the Super League match was due to start after taking into account the violence both inside and outside the Apostolos Nikolaidis Stadium.

Two hours before the scheduled 1730 GMT kick-off unruly Panathinaikos fans fought with riot-trained police outside the stadium.

The fans threw rocks and other debris at police who in turn responded with tear gas to put a halt to the violence after 10 minutes.

Police also clashed briefly with fans inside the stadium near the players' entrance tunnel.

One police officer was taken to the hospital after being struck with a plastic chair thrown from the stands.

The appearance of the visiting Olympiakos players on the pitch then prompted four flares to be thrown towards them by fans.

Olympiakos vice-president Savvas Theodoridis told the Greek cable television network Nova, which was broadcasting the match live, that "the new law is clear, the match should not be played. We do not play in a jungle".

Theodoridis said flares thrown by the fans during the warm-up struck Olympiakos forward Alfred Finnbogason, "burning" the Iceland international's hand, and Serbian midfielder Luka Milivojevic.

Olympiakos quickly returned to the dressing rooms after the flares were thrown.

The visitors top the table with 30 points after winning their first 10 matches and entered Saturday's contest eight points clear of second-place Panathinaikos.