By Constantinos Psillides
CYPRUS, along with Bulgaria, tops the list of match-fixing in top European national leagues, according to the international match fixing watchdog Federbet.
The Belgium-based non-profit body presented its annual report at the European Parliament on Tuesday with a mandate to report matches with irregular betting patterns, notifying the competent national football associations.
Federbet said that 110 matches were believed to have been fixed in 2013-2014 across Europe, a 20 per cent rise from the previous season.
When it came to Cyprus, Federbet said that seven matches were suspected to have been fixed. The Anorthosi-Doxa game on September 29, 2013 (Doxa won 1-2), Ermis Aradippou-Kouklia FC on September 30 (Ermis won 5-2), Doxa-Kouklia FC on November 2 (Doxa won 3-1), the Ethnikos-Doxa game on November 9 (Doxa won 0-3), Doxa-AEL on December 12 (Doxa lost 0-1), Alki – AEK Larnaca on January 4, 2014 (AEK won 1-2) and the Nea Salamis-Aris game on April 23 (Aris won 3-4).
While Cyprus is not the country with the highest number of suspected fixed matches –UK ranks first with 13, Italy follows with 9 and Greece had 6 – it’s the only country along with Bulgaria that has all of its suspected matches in the top division.
Police spokesman Andreas Angelides told the Cyprus Mail that his office had no official report on the matter. “We are keeping a close eye on match-fixing but we have yet to officially receive any such report,” he said, adding that investigations on suspected fixed matches are ongoing. UEFA reported on a number of possible fixed matches in the past – the so-called ‘red envelope’ matches – but to date no inquiries or probes have been ordered.
The Cyprus Football Association (CFA) didn’t respond to the Federnet report, while CFA head Kostakis Koutsokoumnis didn’t return comment seeking calls.
While the UK ranked first and recorded the highest increase in suspect matches, none of those matches had to do with the top division, the Premier League. Out of 13 suspect matches, ten were in the Conference South and North division, two in the League Wales and one in the women’s Premier League.
“Every day all around the world there is an attempt at match-fixing. And this virus is getting bigger and bigger,” Federbet general secretary Francesco Baranca told a press conference at the European parliament.
With the World Cup looming in Brazil, Baranca warned: “It is not so impossible that when they have learned to fix the match during the domestic competition they are also going to fix the match in the international competition.”
He added: “We can solve this problem in quite an easy way but nobody wants to solve it. Federations are not listening to us, UEFA is not listening to us.”
On May 30, Reuters reported that match-fixing is a major issue, especially in Greece, based on a survey conducted by the University of London. According to the study, 12.8 per cent of players interviewed said they had been approached and asked to manipulate a game in the last year.