By George Psyllides
Inflammatory comments from football club officials must stop, Justice Minister Ionas Nicolaou said on Tuesday, suggesting they contributed to the related violence frequently seen in Cyprus.
“They are really unacceptable and everyone must realise, including clubs, that we must be especially careful so as not to give any motives to certain people who do not seem to have any relation with the sport,” Nicolaou said.
His comments came a day after a bomb blast at the home of a referee’s mum.
The 60-year-old woman is the mother of referee Thomas Mouskos. Mouskos’ Ypsonas home has been under police protection after he received threats following the Apollonas vs Othellos game, which ended in a 2-2 draw.
Apollonas fans and officials were not happy with the ref’s performance.
It was not first time Mouskos was targeted. Last May a grenade was lobbed at his house but did not explode.
“Inflammatory statements must stop,” the minister said, urging the football association to enforce the regulations.
“There are clear provisions in the CFA’s charter about inflammatory statements. They must examine them (comments) and if required take the necessary measures,” Nicolaou said.
It was the fourth incident in the last 12 months involving referees being targeted with explosives. It prompted referees to boycott all domestic matches for a week.
Club officials voicing accusations against match officials is a usual occurrence in Cyprus where fans are already predisposed.
Recent revelations made by a top flight referee about widespread match-fixing could only serve to make the situation worse.
Marios Panayi caused an uproar when he announced during a news conference in December that he had recordings, documents and other evidence proving that members of the CFA were fixing matches, in particular those deciding which team would be relegated to the second division.
Panayi gave a statement to police and handed over material backing his claims. A great deal (recordings) of that however, had been obtained illegally and would not stand in court.
Police have launched an investigation into the affair and have arrested the chairman of the Referees’ Association (CRA) Michalis Argyrou and former CRA member Michalis Spyrou.
Panayi also named CFA deputy chairman Giorgos Koumas as being involved. CFA chairman Costakis Koutsokoumnis has conceded that match-fixing was taking place in Cyprus but has resisted calls to resign.
Meanwhile, it emerged on Tuesday that Auditor-general Odysseas Michaelides has instructed the tax department to take a closer look at referees, among other professional groups.
The European football governing body said it was concerned about the goings-on in Cypriot football but appeared to leave it up to the CFA to rectify the situation.
“UEFA is monitoring [the situation] and is being briefed by various sources and is concerned, but it is aware that its representative in Cyprus is the Cyprus Football Association (CFA),” UEFA executive committee member Marios Lefkaritis told reporters in Nicosia on Tuesday.
But Lefakaritis was quick to dismiss creating a different administrative structure to run the top football division.
THIS ARTICLE WAS PUBLISHED IN THE CYPRUS MAIL IN MAY 2014