Euroleague Basketball are weighing up possible options to move games away from Greece following a cowardly attack on three officials on Friday night.
Following Barcelona’s win over Panathinaikos at the OAKA, referees Luigi Lamonica, Damir Javor and Emin Mogulkoc were attacked by two unknown individuals in a taxi along with the driver as they were heading to their hotel.
A window of the taxi was smashed, but three officials and the driver were not hurt in the incident.
Euroleague Basketball confirmed that they have communicated directly with the Hellenic Police, who guaranteed the safety and security of the referees until they departed from Greece.
Today, Euroleague Basketball released a statement condemning the actions and will issue life bans to the two cowardly assailants, if they reveal themselves.
Included in the statement:
- Euroleague Basketball and all participating clubs condemn violent acts of any shape or form, and will continue to apply a zero-tolerance policy.
- Euroleague Basketball will support the police investigation into the attack. Should the two individuals be identified, they will be banned for life from attending any Euroleague Basketball game/event, without prejudice to any additional legal proceedings.
- Euroleague Basketball will support the three referees and referee coach in any further action they take.
The statement added: “Euroleague Basketball will seek the cooperation of the clubs and the local authorities to prevent any such incidents in the future.
“Whilst the attack is unprecedented in the 20-season history of Euroleague Basketball, should a similar incident occur again within the territory of Greece, this would signify that a safe and secure environment for the visiting teams, referees and all other accredited personnel cannot be guaranteed.
“Therefore, Euroleague Basketball will immediately evaluate relocating all further EuroLeague, EuroCup and U18 Tournament games outside of Greece.”
This isn’t the first time that sanctions either directly or involving Panathinaikos have been issued. The Greens, who last won the EuroLeague title in 2011 were ordered to play their home game against Fenerbahce behind closed doors for a failure to adopt the necessary security measures amongst other reasons.
Panathinaikos were also fined €54,000 for the incident as well.
The latest statement involving a team from Greece could significantly damage the reputation of the nation hosting a major sporting event in the future.
Athens have regularly been in the run-in to be hosts for EuroLeague Final Fours, including this year, but again missed out to the German city of Cologne.
Friday’s incident will no doubt cast a dark shadow on whether Athens will ever host a major basketball tournament again.