By Elias Hazou
The European football governing body is concerned about the goings-on in Cypriot football, UEFA vice chairman Marios Lefkaritis said on Tuesday, a day after referees went on strike following a bomb blast at the home of a colleague’s mother.
“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),” Lefkaritis told reporters in Nicosia on Tuesday.
He was responding to questions concerning UEFA’s thoughts on Sunday’s incident in Limassol, which was also reported abroad, particularly in the UK.
“Such events always draw interest not just in Europe but around the world. For the media, good news is not news,” Lefkaritis offered.
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.
The blast came in the wake of claims of widespread match-fixing in Cypriot football.
The allegations were spearheaded by whistleblower referee Marios Panayi, who says the football association has lost all credibility because – at the very least – it knows about the corruption but turns a blind eye to it.
A number of the big clubs meanwhile have been calling for a different administrative structure to run the top football division – a proposal summarily dismissed by Lefkaritis.
Commenting on the broader issue of violence in sports, justice minister Ionas Nicolaou said on Tuesday that authorities are determined to step up security at sports venues.
He was understood to be alluding, among others, to the introduction of the fan card – an idea opposed by the clubs and supporters who say it infringes on privacy.
“Football grounds are not a battlefield, they are places where people come to enjoy the sport. If some people choose not to attend games because of additional security, then let them stay at home,” Nicolaou said.