Recent incidents at a football matches were the best proof of the necessity of the introduction of the fan card to combat hooliganism, Justice Minister Ionas Nicolaou said on Tuesday.
The minister was speaking at the start of a training programme for police officers geared towards stadium and match security, with the participation and guidance of UEFA.
“This kind of education is another element of proof of the government’s intention to completely eliminate the phenomena of violence at sports venues in Cyprus,” said Nicolaou.
He said hooliganism was a social problem and the violence it created could not be accepted in a civilised and modern society.
“We all, state, legislature, organised bodies… sporting, social and other… need to work together to address this scourge,” he added.
Nicolaou spoke of recent measures backed by a more robust legal framework with added offences and stiffer penalties that included banning culprits from games and the introduction of the fan card, and the elimination of anonymity.
“Recent events demonstrate the need for continuous improvement,” he said, adding that the training programme was part of that.
“The common fight against violence in sport is a bet that we are obliged to win both as a state and as a society,” he concluded, thanking UEFA for its positive response to the government’s request to assist in the training.
Last week the Limassol District Court imposed a three-game ban on the 41 APOEL fans arrested in connection with violence during the APOEL-AEL football match in Limassol the previous on Sunday. It was the largest group of football fans ever to be barred from entering the pitch.
During the match APOEL fans set fire to stadium seats, a fire escape exit and a canteen warehouse causing extensive damage. They also hurled objects at officers, injuring four.