By Peter Stevenson
Referees have called for stricter punishments after football fans attacked a referee on Saturday following a pre-season friendly.
The attack against Leondios Trattos, the chairman of the referee association, took place after a game between Nicosia side Omonia and Aris of Limassol at Pelendri.
Omonia fans have held a grudge against Trattos since 2004, when he refereed a match that they believe cost them the title, drawing 1-1 with Paralimni.
Neither club had asked for police presence at the match, which is usually the case with friendly fixtures.
According to the referees’ association’s general secretary Marios Panayi, Trattos was attacked by several Omonia supporters
The referee had to leave the stadium in a police car and was later taken home by another referee.
Despite being injured, Trattos refused to go to hospital to receive medical attention, Panayi told the state broadcaster on Sunday.
Trattos gave a statement to police on Sunday, identifying three people who attacked him.
No arrests have been made yet.
Referees said hooligans were out of control.
“The hooligans’ actions have taken on an uncontrollable form, which is being tolerated by everyone, especially the state,” referees said in a statement.
The lack of strict punishment, indeed the absence of any punishment for such crimes, allowed hooligans to put lives at risk, the referees said.
“Hooligans on Saturday could not even be restrained by members of both clubs, and especially Omonia chairman Stelios Mylonas, who attempted to shield the battered referee,” the statement added.
The association called on the state to take the necessary measures to punish those who took the law into their own hands. It called on the Cyprus
Football Association (CFA) to take measures to also help prevent such incidents from occurring again.
“The CFA should not permit friendly matches from taking place at unsuitable pitches and should cooperate with clubs to find ways to rid the country from hooligans,” the statement added.
Omonia apologised to Trattos and condemned the incident.
The club said its board will hold an emergency meeting to discuss the events and has also expressed their readiness to discuss the matter with the referees.
The CFA said it would act decisively to contribute to the best of its abilities to help prevent acts of ‘terrorism’ which only cause damage to football on the island.
“During a period when clubs are making huge efforts to survive financially, behaviour like this only causes more problems and we hope police investigations will lead to those responsible being charged,” a CFA statement said.
Despite pompous statements frequently uttered by officials, little has been done on the ground to crack down on hooliganism.
Nine Apollon fans were arrested in July following trouble before a friendly game between their team and Anorthosis at the Antonis Papadopoulos stadium in Larnaca.