PAOK-OM – Marseille play at La Toumba in the Europa Conference League on Thursday: “It can quickly overflow”

I hope that Marseille will be received like we were received here. Your supporters better not come“. After the threats of Razvan Lucescu, the coach of PAOK Saloniki, last Thursday at the Vélodrome (note: who repeated the case at a press conference on Wednesday), Jorge Sampaoli’s players will play the second leg of the quarter-finals of the Europa League conference at the Stade de la Toumba An ultra-hot facility that can hold around 28,000 fans but does not welcome Marseille supporters.regret“, OM preferred to follow the recommendations of the Greek authorities.
Security demands, movement bans on opposing supporters have become commonplace in Greece. A rule that already applied at the beginning of the last decade when Sidney Govou, Djibril Cissé or Jean-Alain Boumsong wore the Panathinaikos jersey. A decision that was ultimately logical given the record left by the arrival of the PAOK Ultras in Marseille: two days in suspense, smoke bombs in the rubble, explosions of agricultural bombs, seats of the Vélodrome demolished, 30 police officers injured and 10 arrests ( note: including 3 Marseille ).

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When we play at La Toumba, the stadium is always full two hours before the game starts. You feel like you’re in a World Cup finaltells us Youssef El-Arabi, the forward of Olympiacos. Once you warm up, they like to put pressure on you. At games they whistle you to the point where you can’t hear the referee whistles and throw smoke bombs. Honestly, it’s wonderful to live in, it’s a very, very nice atmosphere. After that there are sometimes incidents and that takes away from the charm a bit.

Anthony Le Tallec, who missed out on the Greek championship between 2015 and 2017, is not ready to forget Toumba, where he hit the net in Atromitos’ championship win in November 2016 (4-3). “It’s a special atmospherehighlights the former Le Havre. After the first leg, Marseille will not have any surprises in how they are received. There are a lot of fights in the stands. When I played in Greece, the championship was often canceled because of that. Along with Olympiakos, Panathinaikos and AEK, PAOK’s stadium is among the hottest in Greece.”

The Ultras of PAOK Saloniki during the trip to Marseille.

Photo credit: Imago

There will be bullying and corners won’t always be easy to take

Canal+ agent Sidney Govou makes a similar assessment after his only season in the Greek Super League (2010-2011). “It is to be hoped that UEFA will do the right thing when it comes to safety and so will the club. These are dangerous places that can quickly overflow because the Greek supporters are gaining the upper handtrust us with the Vice World Champion. The grandstands are close to the field and it seems that the ultras can access them quickly. While it’s impressive, there will be intimidation and corners won’t always be easy to take, but I don’t think players need to fear for their integrity..”

For the seven-time French champion with orienteering, one thing is clear: The enthusiasm for stadiums in Greece is unique. “It goes beyond passion and really affects all clubsremarks Sidney Govou while he clicks on “Racism in the stadiums when I played there“. I’ve seen very, very complicated moments with invasions on the field without overflows even after the game. You have the feeling that it can happen very quickly. I think soccer is even hotter in Greece than in Turkey. I’ve played against Turkish clubs in Europe and I’ve seen less hatred in people’s eyes.”

An atmosphere that therefore “matchless” with the enthusiasm of the Vélodrome for an “Olympico” or a Saint-Etienne-Lyon derby. Excessive love can sometimes go very far. “The day before a game against Olympiakos, around 3,000 motorcyclists had come to Djibril (Cissé) with smoke bombs to give him encouragementsays Sidney Govou. We lived next door and then they came in front of my house and blocked the traffic. ” The Marseillais are warned: the PAOK play on Thursday evening at twelve.

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