By Iacovos Constantinou
THE Cyprus Football Association (CFA) has issued a statement regarding Saturday’s championship decider between AEL and APOEL in Limassol.
It urged both clubs and their fans to tone down their rhetoric ahead of the game so that “we can have a game worthy of the names of the two big clubs, away from any sort of violence and for fans to drive back home safely after the game.”
However it is quite obvious that the CFA’s indecisiveness, unwillingness or, perhaps, inability to tackle the problems plaguing Cyprus football is also to blame for stoking this hostility between rival clubs.
A prime and recent example is their dilly-dallying over the ticket allocation for Saturday’s decisive game.
After two inconclusive meetings among interested parties, clubs have yet to be informed of their ticket allocation. On such a straightforward issue why is the CFA still undecided? This indecision has led to the supporters’ groups of both clubs accusing the CFA of siding with the other side, exchanging insults and making threats on social media against each other.
However one of the biggest problems the CFA has to tackle as soon as possible are the inflammatory comments made by club officials. It is inconceivable that a club president can publicly state after a game that “the referee must have been officiating at another ground” and the CFA just ignores him. Is there no provision in Cyprus football’s rule book about ‘bringing the game into disrepute?’
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinhio was fined €12.000 by the English FA for making sarcastic comments about referee Mike Dean after the Chelsea v Sunderland game. The special one sarcastically referred to his officiating as ‘fantastic’.
Almost after every game, club officials, usually of the losing team, have something rude to say about the referee but nobody seems bothered.
After the APOEL v Omonia game last week Omonia issued a statement claiming that the referee had revealed to a club official that his poor performance was because ‘‘he was wary in case they (the opposition) put the blame on him (in case they did not win)”.
Omonia also accused APOEL’s officials of entering the referee’s changing room at half-time in an effort to try and exert pressure on him.
Omonia’s statement concluded thus: “Everyone can realise where Cyprus football is heading, with referees acting in this way.”
A day or so later the referee denied the accusations saying that no APOEL official had entered his changing room and that he never made such comments about his supposedly poor performance to anyone.
There was a similar incident following the Omonia v AEL game last weekend. AEL’s press spokesman posted on his personal facebook page amongst other things the following: “The referee did everything possible so that we would not win. He followed the instruction he was given to the best of his ability…” and concluded: “We warn all, not to come to Limassol next week with such intentions.”
AEL’s president said after the same game: “We can win games against eleven or fifteen”, a direct jibe at the game’s four officials.
The icing on the cake came from Ton Caanen, the Dutch coach of relegated Aris. After the game that sent his team to the second division he told his players: “You can defeat your opponents, but you cannot beat the system”.
Had Aris defeated Doxa last week they most probably would have survived the drop and perhaps somebody else would have been making the very same statement.
In all these cases I have not heard or read any response from the CFA. Had it investigated any of these claims, and if yes will it punish the guilty parties?
Will the APOEL officials who allegedly entered the ref’s changing room be punished or will Omonia be penalised for issuing a statement based on lies relayed to the club by one of its officials?
Instead of sweeping everything under the carpet as if nothing is said, the CFA should start to take action before it is too late. How ironic that the motto on its website states that ‘through football we make friends”!
Note: The ticket allocation issue will be decided at a meeting between the CFA and club presidents tonight at 18.00 with unconfirmed reports saying that AEL will receive 5,000 and APOEL 2,500 tickets.