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Match fixing bill voted into law

Justice Minister Ionas Nicolaou

A bill on tackling match fixing was voted into law on Friday with a majority vote, hailed by Justice Minister Ionas Nicolaou.
The legislation provides for the establishment of a five-member ethics committee and strict penalties for offenders.
While the committee will not be able to take statements it will submit a report to the attorney general who will determine whether there can be prosecution for the case.
The law defines match-fixing as an offence carrying seven years in prison and a fine up to €200,000 for those found guilty.
Bribery offences concerning officials and athletes carry a five year prison sentence and a €100,000 fine.
The law also allows for the return of profits made off match fixing games.
A total of 26 deputies voted in favour from Disy, Diko, Citizens Alliance, Green Party and independent MP Pavlos Mylonas.
Edek voted against with two votes while Akel’s 15 deputies and Solidarity Movement’s two MP’s abstained.
An amendment was also passed that includes individual matches and games organised by natural persons.
Match fixing has become a scourge in Cyprus, affecting the top flight and the second division.
Footballing authorities have received scores of notifications about suspicious betting, which suggests match-fixing, but no one has been brought to book to date, apart from several €50,000-fines imposed on teams.
The law bans betting by athletes, club officials, referees, and members of the football association. Club officials will be banned from representing athletes.
The legislation also includes provisions for protecting athletes who blow the whistle and banning termination of their contract.
Nicolaou in a statement hailed the move saying he had hoped more deputies would have supported it as most suggestions were taken on board.
Nonetheless he thanked the lawmakers and expressed his belief sports bodies and political parties would trust the state to properly implement the law.
Akel MP Aristos Damianou said the law was not able to tackle the challenges stemming from match fixing while his counterpart Giorgos Georgiou said the law was ambiguous and sloppy.
Kyriakos Hadjiyiannis, chairman of the House education committee which discussed the bill said the law gives the state more tools to fight match fixing and is an opportunity to solve problems in Cypriot football that paint an ugly picture for the game.

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