Cyprus Mail
Cyprus

The referee brave enough to take on the establishment

Marios Panayi

By Constantinos Psillides

Marios Panayi, 34, has blown a lot of whistles since he became a referee back in 1999 but none like the one he blew this week about match fixing on the island. On Wednesday the international referee gave a press conference, announcing to the world that he would go to police with evidence to shock the football world to its core.

While declining to go into specifics, Panayi did point the finger at Cyprus Football Association (CFA) deputy chairman Giorgos Koumas. He said Koumas, along with other sports officials and parliamentary party officials, run the show when it comes to referee appointments. Panayi claimed that the “clique” named referees  who they knew they would give them a favourable result to relegation matches.

Panayi claimed that the “clique” named referees to relegation matches who they knew they would give them a favourable result.

As of Friday afternoon the CFA deputy head has not responded to the allegations.

Panayi is the first person within the football scene to have stepped up. What he said though was not news to many, especially sports journalists. “He took what everyone was talking about around the watercooler and made it public. Everyone knew what was going on, but nobody dared to speak. Until now,” a sports journalist who knows Panayi said.

The sports journalist – who wishes to remain anonymous – called Panayi “a determined man, armed with the right amount of crazy to take on the establishment.”

Panayi got into refereeing at the age of 18, when a neighbour took him to a football match and talked to him about being “a man in black.” Panayi told the Sunday Mail that he was instantly intrigued.

“At the time I was a senior and in the afternoon I was working towards my pilot’s licence. I flew small aircraft and managed to get my first diploma when I first came in contact with the refereeing world,” said Panayi, adding that he gave up being a pilot to pursue a football referee career.

He told reporters on Wednesday that he has since bitterly regretted that decision, in light of current developments.

His rise through the ranks was meteoric. In only ten years Panayi earned the prestigious title of ‘international referee’.

His first match as an UEFA Category 2 referee was Scotland versus Montenegro (under 19) on May 19, 2010. Since then he has refereed 20 international matches, the last one in September 2014.

But he “always had a bit of crazy in his eye”, said the journalist. “Not crazy in the bad sense. He is a driven man and once he sets his sight on something he would anything to achieve that goal. When he told reporters that he will not back down and that he won’t be intimidated, he meant it.

If there is one man not afraid of the people behind the scenes it’s him”.

Being unafraid is a character trait that will come in handy, since Panayi has already reported that he received death threats.

But those threats were buried in the avalanche of comments on the referee’s Facebook profile.

“Finally! A man of courage has spoken! We are right behind you,” wrote one user.

But Panayi first admitted to knowing that something was wrong with the refereeing world two years ago. But, he said first he had to first take care of his other businesses, coffeeshops in Paphos and Nicosia.

Panayi was forced to find another source of income since he has not been appointed to a game since September. According to him, the head of the Cyprus Referee Association Hans Reijkwart said they would remove his name from the international referees list, citing “poor performance.”

Panayi was appointed to two international matches in 2013 and four in 2014.

The referee also claimed he was told that he would be relegated to the country’s second division. The news, according to the sports journalist, made him furious. “He wasn’t about to their bidding so he could keep his position, he is just not that guy,” the journalist said.

Panayi voluntarily removed himself from the referee list and worked towards completing the evidence gathering he started two years ago.

Whether this leads to being just another case that goes uninvestigated or the beginning of clearing up the football scene remains to be seen.

Related Posts

Coronavirus: Sick child in jab row will be taken to Greece (Updated)

Gina Agapiou

Coronavirus: Two deaths, 2,587 people test positive on Friday (Updated)

Nick Theodoulou

February brings with it a range of weekend events

Eleni Philippou

Public finances can withstand support to struggling companies, Fiscal Council says

Source: Cyprus News Agency

Anastasiades will back Neophytou in presidential elections, has dig at Pamborides

Staff Reporter

Only one third of internet users in Cyprus read through privacy policy statements

Anna Savva

14 comments

Comments are closed.