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Russian Football Union to urge UEFA to open probe into attack on journalists in Greece

The Russian Football Union intends to turn to the UEFA requesting it to initiate a probe into reports on Greek PAOK FC fans’ assaulting Russian journalists at a Champions League match

MOSCOW, August 9. /TASS/. The Russian Football Union (RFU) intends to turn to the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) requesting it to initiate a probe into reports on Greek PAOK FC fans’ assaulting Russian journalists at a Champions League match in Thessaloniki on Wednesday, the RFU chief told TASS.

Russia’s Spartak Moscow FC played on Wednesday its away match against PAOK FC as part of the third round of the qualifications stage of the UEFA Champions League. Russian journalists working at the match reported on their social media accounts that they had been attacked by PAOK’s fans before the match at an entrance to media tribune of the Toumba Stadium.

According to Russian journalists, security and stewards, responsible for safety at the sports facility, were inactive as Greek football fans assaulted them. PAOK FC press service later denied the allegations saying that the minor scuffle had been thwarted with the help of security officers.

"The RFU believes that the acts of aggression and rudeness in regard to journalists, who are fulfilling their professional duties, are inadmissible," RFU Acting President Alexander Alayev said in an interview with TASS.

"The Greek side had to provide security at the stadium for Russian journalists before, during and after the match," Alayev stated. "The RFU has launched its own probe into the incident and plans to turn to the UEFA to request a thorough investigation and make sure that all responsible are punished."

The press service of Spartak FC said in a statement on Thursday the Russian club hopes that the Greek authorities as well as the UEFA will hold an unbiased investigation into the incident involving PAOK FC fans and Russian journalists.

"Representatives of Russian media, officially accredited for work at the stadium in Thessaloniki, turned to our club during yesterday’s third qualifying round match of the Champions League," the statement said. "The journalists told us that several of them were subjected to physical force on behalf of PAOK’s aggressive football fans."

"It all happened in the area, where only accredited persons had the right to be present," the statement continued. "Taking into account the development of events, the club decided that it was unsafe for representatives of the Russian media to remain in Thessaloniki and offered them places in the club’s plane on a charter flight to Moscow."

"We hope that the Greek authorities and relevant bodies within the UEFA will come up with an unbiased evaluation of the incident from the legal stance," the statement added.

PAOK FC edged Russia’s Spartak Moscow FC 3-2 on Wednesday at the 29,000-seat capacity Toumba Stadium. The return match of the Champions League qualifying stage between PAOK and Spartak will be held at the over 45,000-seat capacity Spartak Arena in Moscow on August 14.