One of the island’s biggest football clubs, Omonia, on Wednesday asked for the resignation of the football association’s (CFA) board, accusing it of corruption.
Speaking at a news conference, club chairman Antonis Tzionis said Omonia had no confidence in the CFA and the referee committee, nor in the current structure of Cypriot football.
“Enough is enough. We are not here today to mince our words,” Tzionis said. “Cypriot football is ailing on all levels. Unfortunately, behind the proud CFA announcements, there is filth, stench, nepotism, cronyism and corruption. Omonia is paying the cost of this corrupt situation in the worst way.”
The club said it decided to take measures following three games in a row in which referee decisions cost the team points.
Starting with the fixture against AEL in Limassol, Tzionis said the ref failed to punish a home team player after he spat at Omonia’s defender. AEL’s winning goal, scored in the game’s dying minutes, was offside, he said.
Omonia lost the next game with arch rivals Apoel 4-1. Apoel scored its first goal from the penalty spot after its attacker was brought down by a defender who was subsequently sent off by the ref in the 17th minute. Tzionis said there should not have been a red card. Apoel went on to score two more goals – one was a foul on the goalie, the other was offside, the Omonia chairman said.
In the second half, the ref awarded Omonia a penalty but he then changed his mind and gave a free kick instead.
“Even if we accept, something we’re not willing to do, for the sake of discussion that the first three disputed instances could be attributed to a human mistake, the penalty that became a free kick incident uncovers the fiasco in the worse manner,” Tzionis said.
It was the seventh red card against an Omonia player during a game against Apoel since 2010.
“I challenge you to look anywhere in the world and let me know if you find another instance where one of the teams plays with ten men almost permanently against their arch rivals,” he said.
And then there was the most recent game away against Ermis where the home team equalised in stoppage time after a foul on the Omonia goalie.
Tzionis charged that a different ref had been initially appointed to the game but he was changed following “the intervention of a member of the referee committee”. The Omonia chairman declined to provide more details.
Just three weeks ago, the CFA was forced by European football governing body Uefa to put strict measures in place after repeated notifications concerning suspicious betting activity.
At the time CFA chairman Costakis Koutsokoumnis declared that “the party is over.”
“We are not in a position to know if the party with the fixed games is over,” Tzionis said. “What is confirmed every week is that a different feast is in full swing. A feast with distinguished guests.”
Apart from demanding the CFA’s resignation, Omonia called on other clubs to look into the possibility of creating a new league on healthy basis.
“A new league that will stamp out prejudice and secure the equal treatment of all teams.”