January 20 – Football in Cyprus has once again been plunged into a suspected match-fixing scandal after a raft of matches were postponed at the weekend following notifications sent by UEFA with regard to suspicious betting activity and a bomb attack against a local official.
UEFA reportedly cited three second division fixtures – Ermis Aradippou v Digenis Morphou, Onisilos Sotiras v Digenis, Othelos Athienou v Xylotymbou plus two cup-ties (AEK Larnaca v Karmiotissa and Pafos FC v Ayia Napa) — to the Cypriot FA who in turn passed the file over to the police.
Justice Minister George Savvides urged law enforcement agencies to act swiftly.
“I have given clear instructions to the chief of police and members of the force to immediately proceed with the necessary actions,” he said. “I want to emphasise anew that the government’s policy is zero tolerance on all forms of corruption.”
Police have since arrested a 30-year-old player linked to two matches for which there was “heavy betting activity.”
Meanwhile federation officials were meeting with referees today to see when matches can resume. They were called off following a bomb attack against a referee in Larnaca.
In total, roughly 80 notices about suspicious activity have been received by the CFA in recent years, according to local reports , though no arrests have yet been made.
Having said that, the CFA are apparently cutting funding to teams involved and also introducing points deductions and fines if a team participated in two suspect matches.
The Cypriot FA also stated that it would look to implement a five-year ban on clubs who are subject to five inquiries.
The announcement of the police investigation follow last week’s move by Omonia Nicosia, who requested that both UEFA and FIFA intervene and ban Cypriot teams from European competition due to ‘widespread corruption’.
Omonia’s claims, backed up by Apollon Limassol, revolved around several of its games being tainted by poor and biased refereeing and singled out CFA chairman George Koumas, whom the club believes will not change the current situation plaguing the country.
Limassol has also sent a motion to the CFA demanding that local fixtures are officiated by foreign referees.
Contact the writer of this story at firstname.lastname@example.org