Rivalries are why we follow this lovely little thing called sports.
Mutual dislike plus proximity, multiplied by a long history of back and forth dueling equals pure rivalry bliss—except when it ends like this.
Greek soccer clubs Panathinaikos and Olympiacos renewed their marrow-deep hatred for each other on Sunday, engaging in another “Derby of the Eternal Enemies.” As the words “eternal enemies” would suggest, it was far from a friendly exhibition.
Facing a 2-0 blanking, Olympiacos fans rained flares and trash down onto the field at Karaiskakis Stadium in protest, according to Ryan Rosenblatt of SB Nation. One flare reportedly struck Panathinaikos striker Marcus Berg and riot police quickly formed a barrier a line around the away side.
Unfortunately for the Greens, police couldn’t stop a drink from striking Panathinaikos manager Yiannis Anastasiou in the 79th-minute. The manager was pacing the sideline when a cup thrown from the stands struck him full in the face.
Anastasiou fell to the ground clutching his eyes—because that’s what you do when a large cup loaded with sugar water thumps you in the orbital. If you think he flopped, harken back to your youth for a moment.
Remember that time a giant water balloon smacked you in the mouth and didn’t break? Pour that liquid into a big plastic or paper cup, seal it and imagine it hitting you in the face from 40 feet. It’s not a party.
Fortunately, Anastasiou was able to leave the pitch with his life intact, according to Demetris Nellas of the Associated Press (h/t SFGate.com).
“I feel a little dizzy, but I’m otherwise fine,” Anastasiou told reporters.
The manager also expressed his disdain for the prevailing culture of violence in the rivalry.
“We have reverted back to our usual culture, where we [away teams] are not sure we will leave the field in one piece. What can I say?” Anastasiou said.
It should be noted that Anastasiou wore a band-aid over his left eye while speaking to reporters.
As Anastasiou says, fans turning to ugly, dangerous practices during rivalry games isn’t a new phenomenon. This is something that happens and will continue to occur as long as people get blitzed and congregate en masse in the name of destroying an “enemy.”
The one thing you can do, however, is not be the guy who throws the soda/flare/punch. Be the fan who draws a respectable line and sticks to it.
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