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Greek prosecutor to probe armed PAOK soccer club owner

PAOK owner, businessman Ivan Savvidis, second from left, approaches AEK Athens' Manager Operation Department Vassilis Dimitriadis, center, as his bodyguard and PAOK's players Fernando Varela, second from right, and Djalma Campos, right, try to stop him during a Greek League soccer match between PAOK and AEK Athens in the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki, Sunday, March 11, 2018. A disputed goal at the end of the Greek league match led to a pitch invasion by Savvidis, who appeared to be carrying a gun. Savvidis came on the field twice. It's unclear this photos shows his first time or second. (InTime Sports via AP)

THESSALONIKI, Greece (AP) A prosecutor ordered a judicial investigation Tuesday after the gun-toting owner of PAOK Thessaloniki marched onto the field following a disputed goal in a Greek league match.

The incident prompted condemnation from FIFA and an indefinite suspension of league play.

The probe by prosecutors in Thessaloniki will also investigate why police allegedly ignored instructions to arrest Ivan Savvidis on the spot, issued by a prosecutor on duty at Sunday's game against AEK Athens.

Savvidis entered the field accompanied by bodyguards, apparently carrying a pistol in a waist holster. He made no visible move to use the weapon, for which he has a license.

Fernando Varela had just scored in the 90th minute, putting PAOK ahead 1-0. The referee signaled a goal but then seemed to disallow it for offside. The match was abandoned.

Savvidis apologized Tuesday for what he called an "emotional reaction" to the referee's decision and "the general negative condition in Greek soccer."

In a statement on the club's website, Savvidis said his only intention had been "to protect tens of thousands of PAOK fans from provocations and clashes (with) victims."

Savvidis' behavior provoked PAOK's suspension Tuesday from the 230-member group of Europe's most influential clubs. The European Club Association said its board voted unanimously to suspend PAOK until a March 27 members' assembly in Rome.

Updated March 13, 2018

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