Cyprus Mail
Crime Cyprus

Minister confident of action on match fixing

Justice Minister Ionas Nicolaou on Tuesday said he was confident The Cyprus Football Association (CFA) would act accordingly the next time there was a notification suggesting a game had been fixed.

“If the required determination is not displayed by everyone, this situation will not be tackled,” the minister said. “It is a state of affairs that is an insult to our league, but also the country.”

Nicolaou added that in the future he expected the CFA to impose the appropriate sanctions based on the decisions it had taken.

On Monday, the CFA unanimously approved modifications to the disciplinary code regarding matches and suspicious betting activity, with tough fines and long prison sentences for those found throwing or fixing matches.

The first red notice about a club would incur the imposition of a €50,000 fine, with second-time offences attracting the same monetary sanctions plus the deduction of six points from their league table score.

A third notice would expel the offender from the league and cut all grants and revenues the club would receive from the CFA for participating in the competition.

A further notice would leave the club facing the imposition of a further €100,000 fine and their striking off from the register of the federation, with no entitlement to be re-registered for a participation in the CFA championship for a period of five years.

The decision came after pressure from the European governing body UEFA, which considers Cypriot football one of the worst as regards match-fixing.

“No one is allowed to show the slightest laxity, and I believe the CFA should act immediately and decisively with the first file (notification),” the minister said.

In combination with the new CFA rules, the justice ministry was preparing legislation, similar to laws in other countries, in a bid to stamp out match-fixing.

The aim was to create a strict legal framework that would see offenders serve long prison sentences and face hefty fines on being convicted.

UEFA officials, who visited the island recently, had informed the CFA and law enforcement officials that local matches continued to generate suspicion.

There was unanimity on more stringent action against match-fixing but also on the methods that would be used to ensure the rules are properly applied.

UEFA vice-president Marios Lefkaritis said that according to UEFA some 23 or 24 matches played so far this and last season appeared to have been fixed — they were connected with suspicious betting activity – adding that the police had not undertaken investigations into the cases.

When asked how cases involving red notices and suspicious betting activity could be solved, police spokesman Andreas Angelides said they were very unique as it was not down to witnesses, but evidence and data.

He said: “You need for example to lift the confidentiality (on communications). That is a tool that can help.”

The bill prepared by the ministry provides for phone tapping, a controversial practice, which parliament rejected on previous occasions.

It also envisages up to seven years in prison and/or fines of up to €300,000 for fixing matches while those found guilty of receiving bribes to throw games face up to five years’ imprisonment and/or fines of up to €100,000.

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