Greek football migrant protest
Players from AEL Larissa and Archanaikos stage a sit down protest about migrant deathsYouTube

Players at a Greek football match staged a sit down protest to highlight the number of migrants that have lost their lives trying to reach the Aegean islands. Just after kick off, all 22 players plus coaches and substitutes sat in silence for two minutes.

The tribute came within moments of the referee blowing his whistle for the second-tier league 29 January match between home side AEL Larissa and Acharnaikos in the Thessalian city of Larissa.

"The administration of AEL, the coaches and the players will observe two minutes of silence just after the start of the match in memory of the hundreds of children who continue to lose their lives every day in the Aegean due to the brutal indifference of the EU and Turkey," an announcement over the club's PA system said moments before the protest.

They added that it was an "effort to drive the authorities to mobilise all those who seem to have been desensitised to the heinous crimes that are being perpetrated in the Aegean."

In a statement on their website Acharnaikos said they had "unanimously" agreed to the request from their rivals and had not given it "a second thought." They added that they hoped the voices of their athletes would amplify those of regular citizens who refused to accept the "unjust" and "inhumane" loss of life in the seas.

Larissa went on to win the game 2-0.

The gesture came less than a day after 24 people died attempting to cross to Europe from Turkey when their boat sank off a Greek island on 28 January. Less than 24 hours after the game, five children were among at least 33 migrants who drowned in the Aegean Sea after their boat capsized on attempted crossing from Greece to Turkey.