ATHENS – The Mayor of Nea Philadelphia-Nea Halkidona Aris Vasilopoulos said he would take legal action after councilors were beaten up by gang of men who said they were supporters of the AEK football team in an apparent attempt to intimidate the officials into giving park land to the team for a new stadium.
Six people were injured in the reported assault and the Mayor said he believed it was an an attempt to warn councilors against objecting to the construction of the stadium in Nea Philadelphia, where AEK had its home ground until 2003 before the previous structure was razed.
“They acted like an organized group, with leaders and clearly defined roles,” Vasilopoulos told Kathimerini. “That is why we believe they are an organized gang. We recognize some of their faces from previous incidents.”
Local officials have complained in recent weeks that they have been regularly intimidated. AEK has denied any connection to the assailants and issued a statement yesterday declaring its opposition to the latest incident.
Vasilopoulos said he had informed the police ahead of the municipal council meeting that he feared the gathering would be disrupted but, according to the mayor, authorities did not provide any security.
AEK unveiled plans in October 2013 to build a 33,000-seat state-of-the-art stadium on the site of the old ground. But the plans mean that part of Nea Philadelphia park will have to be given over for the construction of the new stadium.
Despite planning to build a new stadium, AEK is having serious financial problems and its soccer team has been relegated out of the top divisions of the Greek league after floundering.