By Angelos Anastasiou
Whistle-blowing referee Marios Panayi, whose public denunciation of the Cyprus Football Association’s top brass and reports of match-fixing in Cyprus stirred up controversy and triggered a police investigation in 2015, has sent an open letter to the CFA’s chairman, the executive committee, the board of directors, and the chairmen of football clubs, calling for radical overhaul of refereeing.
“With Cypriot refereeing scraping the bottom of the barrel due to your choices, omissions, and meddling, it is high time – if you truly love football – to radically overhaul refereeing; as for the need for better management of the CFA, now is not the time,” Panayi urged Cypriot football’s leaders.
“Reduce referees in the top league to 14 and assistant referees to 18, reduce referees in the second league to 16 and assistants to 20, and find young referees, under 28, from lower leagues, with their performance on the pitch being the main criterion.”
Panayi added that “there are capable referees who shouldn’t have to have a former referee or referee observers as a father or relative”.
“Political party preferences are in no way a criterion – you should look solely at his performance and abilities on the pitch,” Panayi said.
The referee, who signed off his letter as “English Football Federation Referee”, also recommended cooperation with a university for referees to take stress-management courses, and to undergo video-testing in match conditions.
Further, he suggested, an independent referee department should be created, under the auspices of which a “young referees” programme would be operated, while yet another collaboration with the Education ministry would allow the unit to recruit youth to the profession.
Finally, he called for regular stress-management testing and noted that referee observers who fail to perform their duties adequately should be stricken from the observers’ registry, as this is what most of the problems stem from.