By Constantinos Psillides
FIVE footballers are under UEFA investigation as having “increased betting activity,” DISY MP Andreas Michaelides said yesterday, adding that according to police, 22 individuals are also being investigated for match-fixing.
The House Legal Affairs committee yesterday came up with ways to combat match-fixing, a phenomenon that stigmatises Cyprus football since the island topped the list of match-fixers in Europe, according to the international watchdog Federbet.
In a report published on June 5, the watchdog said that seven matches were suspected to have been fixed in the top national division last year. While Cyprus is not the country with the highest number of suspected fixed matches, it’s the only one together with Bulgaria that has all of its suspected matches in the top division.
“Our aim is not to point fingers at anyone or any team in specific, we want this problem done with. There were nine cases reported last year and nobody was held responsible. This is the worst part,” said Michaelides, suggesting that reports by international football bodies are not investigated.
“In the four years UEFA has implementing the ‘red file’ system, there have been 31 cases of suspected match fixing. Fifteen were deemed as unsolvable and shelved by the police, while investigations are still ongoing for the rest.”
A ‘red file match’ is a warning sent by UEFA to the competent national authority, reporting a match that was suspected to be fixed. Up to now no person or team in Cyprus has been convicted of match-fixing.
The parliamentary committee chairman Sotiris Sampson asked the football association, the Law Office and the police to suggest ways for the House to help with tackling the problem.
“We are ready to vote on any suggestions that will help the competent authorities to combat match-fixing. We have talked about some methods but nothing was agreed upon,” said Sampson.
Opposition AKEL spokesperson Giorgos Loukaides also said that match-fixing is tarring the reputation of Cyprus football, adding that this not the time for people in charge to wash their hands of responsibility.