By Constantinos Psillides
Members of the football appeals board collectively resigned on Wednesday, refusing to render a decision on the repetition of the title match between AEL and APOEL.
The members issued a statement accusing both teams of publicly attacking and humiliating them “in order to pressure members into rendering a favourable decision”. Thousands of APOEL fans gathered outside the Cyprus Football Association (CFA) headquarters on Tuesday to protest the decision. The APOEL demonstration followed a similar one by AEL fans in Limassol, last week.
According to the statement issued by the appeals board both teams were asked to voice their support for the CFA and the board, in order to defuse tension arising from any verdict. “Nothing of the sort took place,” the board notes.
Nektarios Petevinos, APOEL spokesman told the Cyprus Mail on Tuesday that the CFA has equated the guilty party with the innocent party by ordering for a replay of the match.
The ill-fated match, that was to decide which team would win the championship and in extension a ticket for the lucrative Champions League, was interrupted after an AEL fan shot a fire cracker at the player’s bench of APOEL, injuring one of the players.
The appeals board was to due to convene on Thursday morning to decide whether to uphold the CFA decision to repeat the match on neutral ground and with no fans. The decision angered APOEL officials, who pointed out that under CFA law they should be declared the winners since it was not one of their fans who caused the interruption.
The repeat match was set for Saturday at Antonis Papadopoulos stadium in Larnaca.
The APOEL board called for an emergency meeting on Wednesday, that dragged on till late in the evening.
The possible choices for APOEL is to either to accept the CFA decision and not pursue the matter further or file for an ex-parte court order with the Nicosia District Court to postpone the match until a new appeals board is appointed and a verdict is rendered. According to CyBC, APOEL board members were working on a blistering statement against the CFA, possibly calling for the resignation of its chief.
CFA head Kostakis Koutsokoumnis is expected in Cyprus on Thursday morning.
Koutsokoumnis doesn’t have time to re-appoint members of the board and it’s unlikely that APOEL will back down. The situation is expected to be resolved upon the arrival of Koutsokoumnis.
It should be noted that a decision cannot wait for long, since the first week of June is the deadline set for CFA to submit a team from Cyprus to take part in next year’s Champion’s League.