The President of the Croatian Football Federation, Marijan Kustić, and the President of the Greek Football Federation, Panayiotis Baltakos, are united in their desire to use constructive communication between the two federations to calm the tensions that arose after last week’s tragic hooligan incident which resulted in a fatality.
On August 7th, prior to the match between AEK and Dinamo Zagreb in Athens, hooligan violence occurred in which AEK supporter Michalis Katsouris lost his life.
Immediately after the incident, President Kustić of the Croatian Football Federation sent a letter to his Greek counterpart, President Baltakos, expressing regret for the incident and extending deepest condolences to the family and loved ones of the deceased AEK supporter.
President Kustić emphasised in his letter that the “Croatian football family promotes values of unity, respect, friendship, and fair play,” but also that “Croatia and Greece must continue to work with governmental bodies to combat hooliganism, which is a significant challenge in both countries.”
In a subsequent letter, President Kustić asked President Baltakos to assist in calming the tensions and to encourage the leadership of AEK to engage in open communication with Dinamo’s officials ahead of the match between the two clubs.
“All those responsible for the incident must be appropriately prosecuted, especially the individual responsible for Mr. Katsouris’ death. However, I believe our role is to reduce tensions, as we must not allow ourselves to become victims of hooligan behaviour,” Kustić emphasised.
In his response to Kustić, President Baltakos said:
“Nothing should divide people, governments, and true football supporters. Similarly, nothing should divide football federations, like ours. We are friends and brothers within UEFA, the most successful European organisation, and we are obligated to protect the organisation and our beloved football. Thank you for your letters, and I am convinced that you mourn for the AEK supporter just as we do.”
Baltakos invited Kustić to visit Athens in September, and after that, he would come on an official visit to Zagreb. This is intended to deepen the relations between the two associations and alleviate the consequences of the tragic incident.