By George Psyllides
A referee who went public with charges of widespread match fixing in Cypriot football has been stricken off after he failed to pay fines imposed by the football association’s (CFA) judicial committee.
According to Thursday’s decision, Marios Panayi had failed to comply with the decisions of the CFA’s judge who slapped a €5,750 on the referee back in February for making offensive online comments against members of the Cyprus Referee Association (CRA).
The fine is payable 30 days from the day the decision is published.
CFA judge Aristotelis Vryonides said Panayi’s case had been referred to him by the disciplinary committee on November 25, but he had decided to postpone its examination for a week to give the ref the chance to comply.
“I consider the offence of disobeying the decisions of a sports judge to be very serious since it irrevocably harmed the foundation of justice,” Vryonides said in his decision.
Despite the gravity of the case, Panayi had failed to respond in any way, even in a bid to mitigate his penalty.
Panayi surprised the football world in December 2014 when he went public with allegations of widespread match-fixing orchestrated by senior CRA and CFA officials.
Whistleblower Panayi said CFA chairman Costakis Koutsokoumnis and his deputy have destroyed Cypriot football.
Of the fine, Panayi said at the time that it was Koutsokoumnis’ favourite method to shut peoples’ mouths – the same one used to silence football clubs.
“The clubs do not respect him. They fear him,” he said.
The referee claimed that the CFA appoints referees who are willing to shape a game’s result and that they are the ones who decide which teams are relegated.
Panayi identified CFA deputy chairman Giorgos Koumas as the man pulling the strings, claiming he was the one who decided on referee appointments and that he has close ties to football clubs and political parties.
Authorities have so far charged the head and a former member of the referee association, Marios Argyrou and Michalis Spyrou, in connection with Panayi’s claims but the wider investigation appears to have hit a snag and observers did not expect it to advance any further.
Panayi had handed authorities recorded conversations, documents, and other evidence exposing people within the CFA as the ones “running the show” when it comes to local football.
However, it is understood that the manner they were secured, which appears to be unlawful, along with the authorities’ apparent failure to corroborate the allegations, will only lead to a dead end.