back to article Greek cops to paintball rioting fans

Greek cops have come up with a colourful way to deal with rampaging ne'er-do-wells at tomorrow's Champions League final in Athens - paintball the blighters into submission. The authorities expect around 50,000 Liverpool and AC Milan fans to descend on the capital for the epic struggle for European supremacy, The Scotsman …


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  1. Simon Day

    Head shots?

    There is a reason you wear googles when paint balling - head shots can blind you - I hope the officers are going to be well trained on this point!!

  2. Daniel

    What about the potential to blind people?

    Paintballing ranges require you to wear face masks. There's a very good reason for that:

    Paintballs move very fast. If they hit you in the eyes, they can easily take out your eyeballs and leave you blind for the rest of your life.

    I presume the Greek police have not planned to distribute face masks for their targets. What will they do if they blind some people permanently while "maintaining the public order"?

    Looks like someone hasn't thought things through over there...


  3. Cavan

    theres always one.....

    That's all well and good, but there's always someone that paintballs a lot, and brings their own ammunition, and or paint grenades etc...

    although i'm sure there will be enough stag goers to take up the opposite side of the square and which would probably provide the best stag-do paintball outing ever. where do I sign up?

  4. James

    Finally, an effective weapon?

    With all the uproar about this tactic by the Greek police, it seems to me that they might have finally found an effective deterrent....

  5. Tim Evans

    Er, isn't that a bit dangerous?

    There isn't a paintball site in the land that will allow you to paintball without face protection due to the risk of eye damage, surely this a bit of a risky strategy?

    I've been paintablling a fair bit and the paintball guns are at best less than accurate, anything more than a slight breeze and its almost impossible to predict where the paintball will land. How are they going to be able to pick one person out of a crowd with these things? The potential for innocent bystanders being 'tagged' seems fairly high to me.

  6. Sam

    Like being "punched"?

    "I've been paintballing and being hit by one of those pellets is like being punched.."

    When did you last get punched? Schoolgirls do not count.

    A Biker Grove style blinding would be a pretty poor souvenir mind...

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Good Idea

    I think that the Greek police are on to a good idea, since it would only be used in large open areas.

    I know that being hit by a paint ball gun is painful, had a large burise on the back, but i would suggest that it is less painful then being hit by a rubber bullet or batton.

    Also it would help in idenification for later on if need be, its all well and good saying to use CCTV but that takes a long time and so many people can and do look the same, where as a big yellow or green mark isn't that easy to miss.

    So good idea.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Yeah I've been paintballing before too, and one thing is for certain - those things definitely don't fly straight.

    (Round projectile / smooth-bore barrel = curved trajectory)

    So when the riot police open up with these things, missing their intended targets with half their ammo - are they simply going to arrest everyone who gets paint splattered on them?

    There goes 'presumed innocent' ... again.

  9. daniel

    Think about the children!

    The poor rampaging hooligans! The Police should spend their time in the station watching CCTV and hoping to ID them later...

    God forbid the Riot Squad taking to them with trunchons, tear gas and flashballs and beating some sense into the dumb drunken beggars , I mean, by the lord, real policemen on the streets doing a real job?

    Why does this not surprise me coming from Britain?

    Oh, come on for god's sake, if they do not like the idea of being shot at, don't go there or don't be a dumb-ass and throw beer bottles at the local law!

    Not all european countries will issue with an incident number from their cosy police station... some will actually respond and beat seven bales of hay out of you when you get that far out of line...

    Remember, Football is a game. Rioting is a criminal offense, and the nutters deserve to get a good kicking from the powers that be.



  10. Chris Matchett

    So Liverpool fans don't like having missiles launched at them...

    The irony!

  11. JayB

    Painting the town....

    I've heard of painting the town red but this is getting silly...

    Maybe the Greek Police arrest everyone and then sell them to the Tate Modern.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Danial... should stand for election...

  13. Chris Watson

    They may not just be regular paintballs, either!

    The marking kind I am familiar with here in the US are also filled with CS (Tear gas) and when fired into a crowd, incapacitate the individual as well as mark them for pickup.

    Nothing like being stung, blinded, marked, and puking your guts up while waiting for a cop to come and put the flex cuffs on you to make for a great day at the game. : /

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward



    What planet are you on? If tomorrow you walk past the railway station were football fans (or should I say hooligans) are preparing to attack the continent do you mind if the police accidentally shoot you dead?

    Or, next time you're on the tube next to a suspected bomber, do you mind if the police shoot you then?

    I am a football fan, I am not a hooligan. I do not want to be shot at. I may however, get caught up in it all. O' hell, just shoot me!

  15. ugly_truth


    I think its a good idea, better behave themselves hadn't they?

    Bring back the whip and corporal punishment while we're on a roll

  16. Mal Franks

    Hmm I wonder...

    ...if they're being sponsored by Sony for their next Bravia advertising campaign.

  17. bambi


    Maybe some sort of permanent dye in the painballs, or a tattoo on the forehead of those charged? T.W.A.T

  18. Dillon Pyron

    Pepper spray

    Chris, my wife carries a pepper spray (actually, a foam) that also marks the perp with a pretty indelible ink.

    I can just imagine the line up at the police station. Six men of almost identical height, weight, general physical condition, one with a purple face. That should stand up in court.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Maybe they can make headshots count only half a point or even deduct one?

    Apart from that I'm with Daniel...


  20. Tim Robson

    Less than Lethal

    Paintballs are nothing new for police. Hell, they're much less lethal than some of the toys that have been cooked up as less lethal submission weapons. What say we look at a few, shall we?

    Option 1: Blunt melee weapon (Baton, riot shield, etc)

    Good for close range, but, here in the states, at least, a suspect with a lethal weapon (which includes a pocket knife) within 21 feet suddenly becomes a suspect that has a nice, big, "Lethal force authorized" printed on his forehead, and a target painted on his chest. Head hits can kill or cause permanent damage, and if you swing fairly hard, it's not that tough to break bones.

    Option 2: Tazer/stun gun

    Again, good for close range, but these tend to have a limited range- under 20 feet in a lot of cases. See above for why that's a bad idea. Also, there is a slight risk of killing the target if they have certain medical conditions, or if they have a LOT of alcohol in them. (There was a case of one guy's hair bursting into flames when tazed. Happened a year or two back, in Florida, if memory serves)

    Option 3: Pepper spray

    Good try, but also within the 21 foot range. Also not effective on everyone- Some people drop like a stone when hit, others simply get more pissed off.

    Option 4: Alternative shotgun ammuniation

    This works pretty well. Types range from wooden dowels, to "super sock" rounds that are kevlar wrapped lead shot, some of which have tails for improved accuracy. They tend to be effective at longer ranges, some having consistent results at 45 yards. The downside is, that, well, head shots still carry substantial damage potential, and that inside of 20 feet it becomes a lethal grade projectile. (Of course, that's inside the 21 foot lethal force range, so no need to change ammo, with the added benefit that the target has a higher chance to survive it) The other advantage to this type is that it still functions like a regular shotgun- which makes it a fairly easy to use, reliable weapon. Even if the pain doesn't stop a target, the simple force of the round slamming into them tends to at least make them struggle for balance, if not knock them flat on their ass.

    Option 5: Paintballs/Pepper balls

    This is what's noted in the article. Upshot of these is that the pepperball vareity gives an added incentive to a target to cease and desist, while paintballs mark the targets. Downside is that you end up with some accuracy issues, (barrels can be rifled, which helps, but still not anywhere near as accurate as a firearm) especially as range extends, wind affects the rounds to an extreme, and that they still have fairly limited range. You also end up with danger from hearshots, both from blunt force (temple shot at fairly close range would not be pleasant, but shouldn't kill) and from the contents spraying into someone's eyes.

    This is neglecting full riot control options, such as tear gas canisters and firehoses, but is fairly accurate for what is available to the average law enforcement officer over here, should their departments decide it worth the money to issue them.

    Those people upset about it should be glad that they chose paintballs instead of shotguns.

  21. david skinner


    From what I remember with paintballing, doesn't most of it wipe off anyway?

    So do the hooligans get shot, go back to base wipe it off and come back again?

  22. daniel

    On a more serious note...

    OK, paintballs can be nasty things, but think... Any fast moving projectile (baton rounds, CS gas, live ammo, taser darts...), all have the possibility of ruining your day, with potentially lethal effects.

    A rubber bullet (baton round) to the head can kill... So can flashballs... so can tasers (though the death rate from being shot with a taser is far less than being shot with a 9mm parabellum).

    It may actually have been more politically correct to charge the crowd with flashballs - a tennis balls moving at 200 FPS tends to knock the fight out of you, and with less damage than a 12 bore (18 mm-ish) rubber bullet... but the rounds are large and clunky.

    A .50 cal (12.7 mm) paintball powered by compressed air seems quite a good idea - compared to the alternatives.

    Remember, some innocent bystanders (does such a thing exist?) could get tagged, but for the most part, if you get hit with half a dozen pink pellets, there is a distinct chance that you were asking for it.

    Rather than taking it out on the police (their anti-riots mesures hurt and are painful), try acting like a responsible adult and not a spoilt drunken brats.

    Remember, the locals like the tourists, but they do dislike yobbos tearing their city apart, so if their flavour of dissuasion works, I'm for it.



  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Has the past taught us nothing??

    I can't believe the Greek police are seriously considering this course of action?!

    Has the national tragedy of PJ and Duncan taught us nothing??

    God dammit!

    PJ (or Duncan, I'm not quite sure), got not one, but TWO paintballs in the mush causing permanant BLINDNESS!!

    How can this be... oh no, hang on, the thought of Ant and Dec getting plastered with paintballs is actually quite appealing.

    Ok, let em try it!

  24. Brendan Dodds


    What colour will the paint be? Red, or red with black stripes?


  25. Ash

    Paintballs can blind you! OMG!

    Ok, good point.

    However, some pissed up yob with a brick, bottle, bar stool etc is SERIOUSLY going to mess up your face if you let him chuck it at you. Given the choice, i'd point-blank the guy rather than be left brain damaged.

    Maybe you'd prefer the Police to tickle the hooligans with feathers?

  26. jon


    the belligerence of some of the comments here beggars belief!!!

    Yes hooliganism should be dealt with swiftly and harshly, but peppering crowds of people; which will inevitably contain true fans who have innocently just gone to watch the game and don't want trouble; with innaccurate paintball guns with the potential to blind is just downright stupid and negligent.

    Says alot about people that they can put these concerns aside in pursuit of tackling hooliganism.

    For shame people.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "Remember, some innocent bystanders (does such a thing exist?) could get tagged, but for the most part, if you get hit with half a dozen pink pellets, there is a distinct chance that you were asking for it."

    Essentially, it all becomes: if you *were* tagged, then you were asking for it.

    The only other alternative is to think that some bystanders can be innocent, and/or that paintballs aren't that accurate. And that would require thinking.

  28. Anonymous Spotty Student

    Used Only on Riots

    People, excuse me but the way I understand it, they said it will only be used in open spaces, and only in case of fan clashes.

    Well, I would thing that anyone finding themselves in such a riot that sticks around is probably part of the riot, so all this "innocent" fans talk is bull.

    If you are a fan, what are you doing beating people in the streer.

    Would you rather they used actual weapons?

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Change of clothes anyone

    So what to take?

    a spare tracksuit or my paintball pistol and a selection of colour'd balls :-)

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Or... since it's likely to be sunny out.. sunglasses to stop the paintballs? I dunno about you guys, but knowing that I do a lot of really stupid crap (falling off roofs, large piles of boulders, slipping and rolling down a hill into a large pokey bush... I just bought some cheap shatter proof sunglasses at the hardware store. Not that you even need those, regular ones will stop a paintball just fine, if slightly more painfully than a facemask.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Europeans and their games...

    You guys always go on about America sucking so much (I agree with most of it), but at least we're more sportsmanlike! I don't see any riots because the Colts beat the Bears in the superbowl, however unhappy I may be. What is it with the rest of the world and football (American soccer)?

    However the police have to deal with the rioters someway, maybe I'll go paintballing too. Wonder what the score will be Police 1, Hooligans 100? Maybe the fans should pack their own paintball guns.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Branding's too good for them

    Scumbags who go for the fight and not the game aren't fans. This tribalism has been the bane of football since the 70's. Shooting them with paint pellets with indellible dye is a good way of tagging these animals. It's a lot more effective than sitting in a CCTV van and then releasing photo's after the event.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    ``Remember, some innocent bystanders (does such a thing exist?) could get tagged, but for the most part, if you get hit with half a dozen pink pellets, there is a distinct chance that you were asking for it."

    Do you ever leave the house?

    Every day people become innocent bystanders. Football fans can quite easily become innocent bystanders (due to the antics of a few).

  34. Mike Moyle

    Re: Europeans and their games...

    "You guys always go on about America sucking so much (I agree with most of it), but at least we're more sportsmanlike! I don't see any riots because the Colts beat the Bears in the superbowl, however unhappy I may be. What is it with the rest of the world and football (American soccer)?"

    In all fairness, I believe that there was at least one female college student killed by the tear-gas paintballs used by the Boston police in the Kenmore Square riot after the red Sox won the World Series. We're no more immune to "fan frenzy" than European footie fans (although - again, to be fair - we'd had to wait 86 frickin' YEARS for the chance to get that stupid!).

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Good ol America

    "You guys always go on about America sucking so much (I agree with most of it), but at least we're more sportsmanlike!"

    Yes over here we just get into brawls about our children's sports. No way little Timmy is getting fouled like that without involving the police!

  36. Loring Manley

    Concessions Opportunity

    In the U.S., at such an event we would probably have a concession booth selling goggles in team colors. Maybe ammunition too (with a safety warning recommending the use of the goggles and probably something about shooting responsibly).

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Victoria Snelgrove

    ``Remember, some innocent bystanders (does such a thing exist?) could get tagged, but for the most part, if you get hit with half a dozen pink pellets, there is a distinct chance that you were asking for it."

    I'm sure Victoria Snelgrove was "asking for it" when the bean bag gun used by a riot cop killed her at a Red Sox baseball game a while back. By all witness accounts she wasn't doing anything and a riot cop shot at someone else and missed. Good thing too. It'd be impossible for one of them mythical innocent bystanders to get blinded by an innacurate paint ball gun or something right?

  38. Mike VandeVelde

    no picnic up here either ;-)

    in Canada it's hockey:

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    would you prefer "less lethal" rubber rounds?

    at least you'd only lose an eye! remember the Ulster incidents involving rubber rounds non-lethally [ no, really!] used on throats , temples , eyes and such?

    there were plenty of casualties and issues involving them.

  40. Big Pete

    The right tool for the job

    A few of these would come in handy.

  41. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    Amen to that

    Bring in the firepower ! I'd love to see that thing in a clip on YouTube or Joost. And I'd love even more for those thugs that mistake sports for Fight Club to get plastered by paintballs from head to toe.

    It's high time somebody cracks down hard on the troublemakers that are making our sporting encounters the equivalent of political summits for police forces. A game of anything should just be a game, with spectators coming to cheer and leaving either happy or disappointed, but in peace.

    For sure, accidents are dreadful, but it's easy to keep track of the one or two people hit by police. Does anyone have the stats on the number of "innocent bystanders" molested by the thugs who just want to hit somebody ? Anyone care to think that they might have preferred just going home normally ?

    I say cover the rioters in paint and, if they still move, bash them with truncheons until they don't move any more.

    It's high time we get our games back.

  42. Damian Turner-Steele

    Better paintballs than plastic bullets

    I been shot with paintballs and beaten by thugs. Better the paint balls. If there are any innocent bystanders then the first sign of riot police should have them vacating the area ASAP. The ones left are fair game. Perhaps the Greek police could sell tickets and maybe hire out paintballs and guns to enthusiastic volunteers.

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