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Police investigating Sunday’s crowd trouble

Limassol police were on Monday investigating the crowd trouble that saw a top flight football fixture abandoned before it even started.

The game between Limassol’s Apollon and Anorthosis of Famagusta at the Tsirion stadium was abandoned after fans of the away team invaded the pitch and attacked the home side’s officials and substitutes.

It happened five minutes before the 6pm kick-off and while paramedics were trying to pick up an injured Anorthosis fan.

By that time, Anorthosis fans, around 1,300, had moved to the centre of the east stand from their designated area, despite the barriers. Anorthosis said later that the “makeshift barriers” were held together with adhesive tape.

Stewards tasked with controlling the crowd abandoned their positions for fear they would be attacked and entered the playing ground.

One fan was apparently injured during the move and the medics tried to pick him up through a door that connected the playing field with the stand.

The door remained open while Apollon substitutes started taking their place on the bench, which was in front of the Anorthosis supporters.

While the rest of the players took their position on the bench, one, Giorgos Merkis, went behind it and stood there looking at the Anorthosis fans.

They perceived this as a provocation and started swearing and hurling objects at Merkis while around 30 invaded the field through the open door.

According to the game’s observer, in the ensuing melee, the fans hit Merkis and other players who picked up objects and hurled them back at the fans.

Anorthosis censured the fans that entered the pitch but it said they had been provoked by Apollon players, staff, and a club official with gestures and verbal abuse.

The fans retreated at the sight of the riot police which had been on standby outside.

Around an hour and 20 minutes later authorities decided to abandon the game because they could not guarantee the safety of the referees.

Police spokesman Andreas Angelides said people were being questioned and officers were going through the security camera footage in a bid to track down the culprits.

 

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