By Constantinos Psillides
Panayiotis Panayiotou, 40, turned himself in after 3.00 this afternoon at a Limassol police station. He was wanted for for questioning in connection with threats made against ARIS Limassol football club former boss Kyriakos Hadjikyriakou.
Hadjikyriakou told investigators he was threatened not get involved with the case of extensive match-fixing in the island’s top league, exposed last week by referee Marios Panayi.
Panayiotou is currently an official with the Limassol-based club. The club issued a statement late on Tuesday rejecting the allegations against Panayiotou.
Hadjijyriakou appears to have given a statement corroborating Panayi’s claims of extensive match-fixing in the island’s top football league, especially when it came to relegation matches. According to police spokesman Andreas Angelides, Panayiotou called Hadjikyriakou on his mobile after he left police headquarters and threatened him.
In a press conference last week Panayi came forward and offered to hand over to investigators evidence of extensive corruption and match-fixing. Among many things, Panayi referred to a game he was asked to referee in 2012 but refused, fearing that he would be asked to fix.
While he didn’t specify which match that was, it became later known that he was talking about the April 22, 2012 game between ARIS Limassol and Enosis Paralimni.
ARIS lost the game and was relegated to the second division. Hadjikyriakos, who at the time was the club’s boss, was furious after the game, claiming that the referee favoured Paralimni. He had told the press then that his team “was up against 13 players.”
Angelides said police were close to arresting Panayiotou.
Panayi gave lengthy statements to the police last week. Attorney-general Costas Clerides, appearing as a guest on Sigma TV news on Tuesday, was asked whether Panayi’s evidence could be used to build a case in court. “It appears so, but I wouldn’t want to get more into it,” said Clerides.
A large portion of what Panayi gave authorities appear to be recordings of conversations obtained illegally, thus inadmissible to court.
Panayi assured the public that he had a “Plan B” if the office of the attorney-general didn’t take his case to court, hinting that he would leak the recordings.
Meanwhile, Angelides told the press that investigators were looking into the evidence obtained from the headquarters of the football association (CFA) on Monday.
Late on Monday evening police, executing a court warrant, searched the CFA offices in Nicosia, seizing 20 desktop computers, six laptops and a large number of documents.
Responding to the police’s surprise raid to CFA’s offices, chairman Kostakis Koutsokoumnis laughingly told the press that “had I known they wanted the computers I would gladly hand them over myself.”
In a interview last week Koutsokoumnis admitted that match-fixing did exist in Cyprus.
Asked by the somewhat surprised journalist as to whether – as sports fans widely suspect – games are usually fixed towards the tail end of the season, the CFA boss offered: “The writing’s on the wall.”
However, Koutsokoumnis dismissed the notion that he should quit, denying any wrongdoing.
“I have still six months left, and I’ve got nothing to feel guilty about. Kostakis Koutsokoumnis is not football’s problem,” he said, referring to himself in the third person.