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Refs angered by decision to use foreign officials in cup final

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Referees expressed disappointment and displeasure on Tuesday over the football association’s (CFA) decision to use foreign officials in the island’s cup final despite pledges not do so.

In a written statement, the referee association said they had informed the CFA of their opposition to such an action “which we consider absolutely wrong.”

The cup final will be played at the GSZ stadium in Larnaca on Wednesday between APOEL and AEL.

The referees accused the CFA of breaking its promise to support and help them.

“Because it is not possible on one hand to declare they would help refereeing overcome its problems, allocating hundreds of thousands of euros to pay experts, and at the same time make decisions that hurt the credibility and dignity of referees, and raise prejudice to dangerous levels,” the association said.

The refs conceded they made mistakes, but their performance during the season – widely held the “most difficult and exciting in the last 15 years” – was especially good.

“Thus, we expected more understanding from the CFA and a reward for the effort. Instead, the appointment of foreign officials in tomorrow’s cup final constitutes punishment of Cypriot referees without justification.”

However, refs have been heavily criticised this season over decisions made in critical games of the championship playoffs.

It is not the first time foreign refs are brought in to preside over football games in Cyprus, where prejudice against match officials runs high.

Last December, a top referee, Marios Panayi, went public with charges of widespread match fixing involving referees and the CFA.

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.

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