Cyprus Mail
Cyprus

Car used by football referee torched (update 2)

A fire that destroyed a car used by a first division referee appears to have been the work of arsonists, police said on Tuesday.

The 2am fire destroyed a company car used by Leontios Trattos. The vehicle was parked at the building where the 42-year-old referee lives.
Preliminary investigations showed the fire had been set deliberately.

Trattos was also targeted in February last year when a bomb destroyed a car parked outside his home.

This was the latest in a string of attacks in the past year against referees. There have not been any injuries so far.

Late last month, unknown perpetrators placed a bomb on the car used by the wife of referee Vassilis Demetriou.

The vehicle was parked outside their house in Aradippou.

In January, a bomb exploded outside the home of the mother of referee Thomas Mouskos in Limassol, prompting officials to boycott cup and league fixtures.

Cyprus Referee Association (CRA) secretary Charalambos Skapoulis told the Cyprus Mail that the association was considering boycotting football matches fearing things would only get worse.

“This is the most possible scenario. We cannot carry on as usual since it could result in a more serious attack,” he said.

However, abstaining from matches would create problems with the match schedules. The league is now in its final stage, the play-offs.

“We are very much aware of this but something needs to be done. We are going to weigh all options and come up with what we think is the best decision,” Skapoulis said, adding that the CRA meeting will take place either late on Tuesday or Wednesday.

He also expressed his displeasure over the lack of progress in tracking down those behind the attacks on referees.

“If I’m not mistaken this is the sixth time a referee was the target of an attack over the last 12 months. No arrests have been made and no one has answered for these crimes,” he noted.

Trattos himself commented on the attack in an open letter, calling on justice minister Ionas Nicolaou to take immediate action and accusing police of ineffectiveness.

“I’m deeply troubled regarding the state’s inability to do what needs to be done and track down these cowards that have terrorised sports fans. One wonders why none of these cases has been brought to justice, since police have been so effective in other instances. Whenever a referee is the target of an attack, everyone involved repeats the same thing over and over and release the same statements asking for the culprits to be punished and that measures are taken. When three to four days pass the matter is forgotten and everyone goes back to their post,” said the referee.

Answering to criticism, a police statement said they police understand the concerns of the Cyprus Football Association and of the Cyprus Referee Association but criticism against them as unfair.

“Once more we would like to send a clear message to all citizens that the police is investigating all cases with full seriousness and professionalism,” the announcement said.

“We believe that everyone must realise that the police cannot be nor is it possible to be everywhere 24 hours,” it said.

It is necessary to stress once more the objective difficulties that arise in connection to securing testimonies when it comes to investigating such cases, the police said said.

Police urged anyone with information to come forward and urged the two associations to do their utmost in order to assist the work of the police for prevention and detection of such cases.

 

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