Marios Panayi, an international football referee who charged that match-fixing was widespread in Cyprus, on Friday announced his intention to run for the top spot in the island’s football association (CFA).
“After much thought, and seeing that no one has the courage to change anything in football, especially at the decision-making centre, the CFA, I have decided to place myself at the disposal of the clubs and submit my candidacy for the position of chairman,” Panayi said in a statement.
Panayi urged people to support him and take the opportunity to rid football of people who led the sport to disgrace and misery.
“I am expecting the support of all those who said Marios Panayi is right,” he said.
Last December, Panayi went public with charges of widespread match-fixing involving referees and the CFA.
He named CFA deputy chairman Giorgos Koumas as the man pulling the strings.
Following Panayi’s charges, CFA chairman Costakis Koutsokoumnis admitted that match-fixing did exist in Cyprus.
Asked by the somewhat surprised journalist as to whether – as sports fans widely suspect – games are usually fixed towards the tail end of the season, the CFA boss offered: “The writing’s on the wall.”
However, Koutsokoumnis dismissed the notion that he should quit, denying any wrongdoing.
Panayi’s 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.
His announcement coincided with the publication of the results of a poll showing that close to 90 per cent of those asked did not trust the CFA and the referees.
The survey, conducted by the University of Nicosia, showed that 87 per cent of the sample of 1,996 people did not trust the CFA or the refs.
By club, 39 per cent supporting champions APOEL said they did not trust the CFA while 41 per cent did not trust referees. The percentages among Omonia fans were 74 and 74 respectively, 60 and 66 for Anorthosis, and 51 and 66 for Apollonas.
Seventy-five per cent said referees had influenced the outcome of the championship.
Close to 70 per cent of those asked said some referees favoured a team deliberately at the own initiative, or on the CFA’s orders, or at the behest of another team.
Broken down by club, 48 per cent supporting APOEL said some referees had influenced the outcome of the competition. The belief was more widespread among Omonia fans, 92 per cent, Anorthosis, 82 per cent, Apollonas 85 per cent, AEL 84 per cent, and AEK 96 per cent.
Only 13 per cent considers the Cypriot league as credible.