By Peter Stevenson
INTRODUCING turnstiles at football stadia and modernising CCTV systems were high on the agenda during a closed door meeting that lasted for several hours at the Justice Ministry late on Tuesday.
Discussion at the meeting between Justice Minister Ionas Nicolaou and officials from the Cyprus Football Association (CFA), football clubs and the sports organisation KOA centred on stamping out hooliganism at sports venues around Cyprus.
“Our job is not an easy one, but we must all take responsibility for our respective part in taking more effective measures,” Nicolaou said.
He added that two draft bills of legislation were sent to the attorney general’s office in November which would ban anyone perceived as a suspect in cases of violence from going to a football game and also taking any trouble maker at a football match to court within 24 hours.
Nicolaou said that the list of stewards at each stadium around the island will be ready by the end of February.
CFA chairman Costakis Koutsokoumnis assured the minister that both the association and football clubs were determined to eliminate hooliganism but that it could not happen without the government’s help.
“We punish clubs with harsh sanctions for the behaviour of their players, but those who commit acts of violence feel that they can do whatever they like without any consequence, because despite some exceptions they cannot be located or arrested,” he said.
Koutsokoumnis and club officials told Nicolaou that they will support and cooperate with the Justice Ministry and the police to remove any troublemakers from football grounds all around Cyprus.
Head of KOA Klea Papaellina said that the organisation would support the CFA and the Justice Ministry’s efforts to combat violence adding that this was a priority of her entire board.
The police, the CFA and KOA are reportedly considering introducing photo identity cards for football fans at the four main stadia on the island in an effort to stamp out hooliganism.
Sources at the Justice Ministry confirmed that the CFA, KOA and football clubs would study the proposal with the CFA shouldering half of the cost and the other organisations contributing the rest.
The new plan would see fans being photographed upon entry at the stadium with their ticket stub and that photograph then entered into an online database to help police track down potential offenders.
The stadia involved will be the GSP in Nicosia, the Tsirion in Limassol and the Antonis Papadopoulos and GSZ in Larnaca. According to sources, the GSP stadium has already begun installing the system and is expected to be operational in May.
The CFA also decided that instead of the team being punished, part or an entire stand will be closed off if fans are caught carrying dangerous items into a stadium.