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Kyprianou calls for ‘cleaner’ football, APOEL stops ticket sale (update)

By George Psyllides

AKEL leader Andros Kyprianou has urged President Nicos Anastasiades to put measures in place to ensure clean football leagues after the latest controversy sparked by match officials during the weekend.

In a letter to Anastasiades, Kyprianou suggested the referees in two important games had ulterior motives.

“Apparently guided by other motives, they committed mistakes that cannot in any way be characterised as human,” Kyprianou said.

The leader of the main opposition party was referring to top flight fixtures between Nicosia arch rivals APOEL and Omonia that ended 3-2, and AEK Larnaca versus Limassol’s Apollonas, which the home team won 2-0.

Both losing teams, especially Omonia, which finished the game with ten players, accused the officials of biased refereeing.

The results favour APOEL, which widened the gap from second-place Apollonas to five points with three games left to play.

Kyprianou, whose communist party has historical links with Omonia, conceded that political parties should not get involved in football.

“However, at the same time we consider it to be their obligation to voice their demand for cleaning up football and to collectively embark on an effort to this end,” he said.

The latest instalment of bad refereeing came a few months after a top ref went public with allegations of widespread match fixing involving referees and the island’s football association (CFA).

Marios Panayi named CFA deputy chairman Giorgos Koumas as the man pulling the strings. His charges have not led to any major developments.

Same goes for numerous so-called ‘red’ and ‘yellow’ files sent by European football’s governing body UEFA, showing suspiciously high betting activity on specific games.

All these added to the prejudice, which eventually led to several bomb and arson attacks against referees. No one has been injured so far.

“As a government, you have the responsibility to put in place the necessary measures to secure the smooth operation of football championships, within the proper framework and rules, without match fixing and red files,” Kyprianou said. “Unfortunately, the CFA leadership has repeatedly proven that it cannot play this role correctly.”

Meanwhile, APOEL FC announced on Wednesday that it would not proceed with the sale of tickets for their crucial upcoming match with Apollon this Saturday to ensure the safety of their fans.

“Unfortunately, the deliberate creation of an explosive surrounding atmosphere, result of all the events that took place over the last few days, demands the demonstration of responsible attitude from everyone involved,” the announcement said.

The club apologised to its fans and said that their foremost concern is everyone’s safety and that it is above any title or financial benefits.

Late on Wednesday night, news reports suggested the APOEL-Apollon game could be postponed to Sunday.

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