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Match-fixing cases heading to the courts

Match-fixing cases heading to the courts Marios Panayi

By Evie Andreou

THREE CASES concerning football match fixing and other claims made by whistleblower referee Marios Panayi are to be filed in the courts soon, Deputy Attorney-general Rikkos Erotokritou said on Saturday.

Erotokritou, speaking on Radio Proto, said allegations that the case would be swept under the rug were completely untrue.

Instead, three cases might be brought before court as early as next week, Erotokritou said.

Two of the cases deal specifically with match fixing while the third focuses on threats against a football official. One case will be filed in the Nicosia district court and the other two in Limassol.

Erotokritou said that testimonies are needed in order for the allegations to be proven and urged anyone that possesses information to step forward.

He added that the attorney-general’s office cannot force anyone who is not a suspect to step forth and testify.

He expressed his reservations however on the final outcome of the whole case.

“The aim is to untangle the skein, but I am not sure it will happen,” he said.

Commenting on the ‘yellow’ and ‘red’ files sent in by UEFA, containing warnings to the Cyprus Football Association (CFA) on a match that was suspected of being fixed, he said that the files are still open but that no evidence or testimonies to support them yet.

Referee Panayi shocked the football world in December when he called a press conference to report widespread match-fixing orchestrated by the CFA and the Cyprus Referees Association (CRA).

He repeatedly pledged to leak a “huge amount of evidence” in his possession if the legal services decided not to pursue the case. The evidence, mostly phone conversations and email exchanges prove, according to Panayi, that CRA members pressured referees to fix matches in exchange for promotion.

As a result of his lengthy statements to the police, the head and a former member of the CRA – Marios Argyrou and Michalis Spyrou – were arrested and questioned regarding the case. Phone conversations of CRA members ordering referees to fix matches in exchange for promotion were leaked to the media.

Some two weeks ago, the CFA had decided to refer Panayi to the association’s disciplinary committee, accusing him of making offensive comments online against members of the CRA, but he responded that he would speak when the time is right and implied that he would call a second press conference.

Match-fixing had also been discussed at the House Legal Affairs committee last June, after the island topped the list of match-fixers in Europe, according to the international watchdog Federbet.

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